Assam: Along with COVID-19, pig farmers face African Swine Fever challenge

Assam: Along with COVID-19, pig farmers face African Swine Fever challenge

Asian Swine Fever Asian Swine Fever

Northeast Progressive Pig Farmers Association has opposed the sale of pigs for slaughtering at NE states following a Govt Notification by Ministries of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry states that “the movement of pigs from the state of Haryana and Punjab to Northeast has been allowed subject under strict compliance”.

The organisation made the official statement, "We at Neppfa are totally against this decision by GOI to allow the supply of live pigs for slaughtering at NE states. This is not at all acceptable and deeply condemnable with strong words. We have seen our farmers from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh how this epidemic has created a huge and irreparable loss to our farmers who have deeply affected financially and also mentally.

Also read: Punjab-Haryana to supply pigs in Northeast, citizens claim ‘Delhi lobby’s victory’ over local farmers

However, what the notification has raised is the lacuna that surrounds the pig farming in Northeast in terms of vaccines, market and other factors. Inside Northeast spoke to Timirbijoy Srikumar, NEPPFA, Secy Membership and Training who gave an overview of what ails the sector.

"Currently we have COVID-19 and floods and along with that we have the ASF in Assam, In Sonitpur and Tezpur there are instances of unnatural mortality. This is not just Assam and Arunchal's problem. The virus contamination risk is and in the greater scenario, entire pig farming community is at stake throughout Pan India", said Srikumar.

On the issue of import of pigs from Haryana and Punjab, he said, "we have to compete with the outside market. Now is the time to become more competitive. But there are certain issues like are the pigs of Punjab and Haryana waste eaters?"

The African Swine Fever originally occurred around 1907 in Kenya. In recent times, it has reached China where the government had to cull because of high mortality. This along with COVID-19 has totally destroyed the business of the pig sector. "The economy is really bad. The first shock came during the lockdown and after 29th April, ASF was recognised", said Timirbijoy.

In Assam, pig strives a backbone for the rural economy. Especially among the indigenous tribes such as Missing, Karbi, Bodo and other such tribal groups. Before the festivals, they sell the pigs for cash expenses and usually they employ backyard farming. However, the situation has changed this year due to ASF related deaths.

Timirbijoy Srikumar then talks about the problems ailing the sector. "In Assam, a lot of the pig farming is done at the backyard which needs up-gradation, the villagers will have to understand the long term impact of confined rearing. If you see, even in ASF more pigs have died from non-commercial spaces. There is also a shortage of vaccinations in classical swine fever and this has affected the sector as well."

Going Forward

The pig sector needs a complete overhaul in terms of modernisation. First is definitely the vaccination availbality. Along with that sustenance pig farmers needs basic awareness in terms of pig rearing in confined spaces so that they are less vulnerable other problems apart from ASF. Even without ASF, the state of health of the pigs is not strong and needs complete upgradation from the current practises.

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