ASF Russia: Virus gets stronger again

01-11-2021 | | |
A piglet before weaning at a farm in Lipetsk region, Russia. - Photo: Vincent ter Beek
A piglet before weaning at a farm in Lipetsk region, Russia. - Photo: Vincent ter Beek

The price of pork in Russia has risen as the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic is seemingly gaining momentum in the country.

That message was shared by Yuri Kovalev, chairman of the Russian Union of Pork Producers, when speaking to the Russian government’s publication Russian Gazette.

In 2021, the ASF issue in Russia appeared to be the most burdensome over the past several years, Kovalev said. Since the beginning of the year, ASF outbreaks have been registered among domestic pigs and wild boars in 35 regions, he estimated.

The human factors with ASF infections

Kovalev admitted that despite the huge financial investments and control, it is impossible to exclude the human factor at the production facilities. “One case of unwashed hands of an employee at a production complex and you lose the entire pig population,” he said.

The ASF epidemic prompts Russian businesses to adjust production forecasts. In 2021, pork production growth in Russia is anticipated to be limited to 1.5% to 2%, which is one of the lowest levels of the past years. On the other hand, the production costs in the Russian pig industry jumped by 15% to 20% since the beginning of the year, Kovalev said.

The domestic pork market experiences an imbalance between supply and demand. Russian customers tend to consume more pork, while business fails to increase production. Against that background, the average price of pork in Russia has increased by 13% since the beginning of 2021, Kovalev estimated.

Miratorg swine farms getting affected

An outbreak of ASF was reported at a site of the country’s largest pork producer Miratorg in the Belgorod region in central Russia in late September, the Russian agriculture safety watchdog Rosselhoznadzor said.

In the meantime, the All-Russian Research Institute for Civil Defense and Emergency Situations has warned about the high threat of worsening the ASF epidemic in 11 Russian regions in the coming months.

The scientists claimed that the chances of emerging new outbreaks are on the rise due to seasonal factors. There are high risks of new outbreaks occurrence at backyard farms and industrial pig breeding farms in Khabarovsk Krai, Primorsky Krai, Amur region, Pskov region, Belgorod region, Yaroslavl region, Nizhny Novgorod region, Saratov region, Sverdlovsk region, Samara region, and the Jewish Autonomous Region, the scientists said.

The authorities are called to enhance anti-epizootic measures in these Russian regions, the scientists said.

Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern Europe correspondent