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ASF Vietnam: New Hope invests; rumours from North Korea

While most of Asia is struggling to overcome the outbreaks of African Swine Fever, one of the largest Chinese pig companies New Hope announced to build 3 new pig farms – in Vietnam. Meanwhile the virus moves on – but sources aren’t always clear.

The move of the Chinese agribusiness is remarkable, as quite a few pig investments in Eastern Asia have been put on hold due to African Swine Fever outbreaks. There even have been reports of farms being re-infected after a total depop-repop.

A modern pig farm under construction near Shanghai, China. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
A modern pig farm under construction near Shanghai, China. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

New Hope Group is one of China’s largest feed producers. According to press agency Reuters, the new pig farms will be located in Thanh Hoa, Binh Phuoc, and Binh Dinh provinces and the farms jointly will produce 930,000 pigs every year, with construction to be completed by 2021. Total investment costs are RMB1.1 billion (over $ 163 million).

New Hope already has 8 feed companies in Vietnam, selling over 700,000 tonnes of feed last year.

ASF situation in Vietnam

It is unclear how the situation with regard to African Swine Fever is in Vietnam. The last official outbreak reports from Vietnam were published by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) late March. At the OIE, 211 outbreaks have been made public from 23 provinces, mostly in Northern Vietnam, with a few from middle Vietnam as well. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, in total 89,600 pigs have been culled.

It is to be feared, however, that the virus also travelled further south, as from Cambodia, new outbreaks were reported this week. Total official count there is now at 7 outbreaks, all in Rattanakiri province, at around 300 km south from the last known outbreaks in Vietnam.

ASF in North Korea?

This week there were also reports about African Swine Fever having reached North Korea. According to the website Daily NK, written from South Korea, the virus would have begun to spread in the outskirts of the capital Pyongyang as from mid-February, causing many deaths amongst pigs kept by families. Despite state bans on trade and sale of the animals, people continued to do that.

Now what do the ASF outbreaks in Asia mean for global pig prices? Keep calm, says pig market expert Dr John Strak

North Korea is a member of the OIE, so in theory the country is obliged to report ASF outbreaks. Nothing, however, has been reported there so far nor have there been any concrete figures about outbreak sizes or locations – hence no mention is made on the interactive map above.

The outbreak news however, would fit into the bigger picture, as Pyongyang is only 170 km away from the Chinese border with Liaoning province. In that province, the first outbreaks of ASF were reported in China in August 2018.

Read more about pig health in the Health Tool

More pigs washed ashore on Taiwanese islands

Matsu and Kinmen islands, located off the coast of China but belonging to Taiwan, also found more occasions of infected dead pigs washing ashore in April. That was reported by Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center. Over the last few months, already 3 carcasses were found positive amongst the debris – early April 3 more were confirmed positive, bringing the total to 6.

Two of them were found at the Matsu Islands, 4 at Kinmen islands. The archipelagos are 220 km apart, but both are off the coast of China’s Fujian province. As all commercial pigs in the wide surroundings of the finding places tested negative for ASF, it is likely that these animals drifted to the islands having been dumped in the water from the mainland.

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