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China's farmers encouraged to re-invest in pig production

By Charlotte Ricca

After African swine fever wiped out 40 per cent of the pig population in China, officials are encouraging farmers to meet demand

China's small farmers are being encouraged to re-invest in pig production in order to meet consumer demand.

Around 40 per cent of China's pig herd was wiped out by the deadly African swine fever year ago. The country’s small pig farmers were hardest hit, with entire herds wiped out, leaving many farmers crippled by debt.

While several large producers are replenishing their stocks, small farmers are resistant to investing in pork due to lack of funds and concerns they may lose more money, as the disease hasn’t yet been fully contained.

There have been reports of Chinese criminals intentionally spreading the disease to force farmers to sell their pigs for a low price. They then smuggle the pigs out of China and sell it on as healthy meat.

According to Wang Junxun, an official at the ministry's Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau, nearly 50 per cent of China’s pork supply comes from small farms who produce less than 500 pigs a year.

"Accelerating production recovery at small-and medium-sized farms directly affects whether the goal of guaranteeing supplies and stabilising production nationwide can be realised as scheduled," he said.

China is the world's biggest producer and consumer or pork, and to help the industry recover the Chinese government has announced plans to support its smaller pig farms.

According to Wang they are helping them partner up with larger producers to scale up and get bank loans.

"If you partner up with big-scale farmers, you solve your problem and also the big producers' problem," Wang told Reuters – referring to the fact that small farms are able to use land in places where large corporates would have a higher environmental impact.

"Let the big help the small, invigorating large enterprises while not relaxing control over small ones," Wang said.

Beijing is also calling for big farmers to provide financial and technical assistance to smaller ones on biosecurity systems.

Further reading US and China reach phase one of trade deal

Further reading Global food prices hit 26-month high in November

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