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Vietnam's Pig Farmers Hit as Consumers Shun Pork Due to Swine Fever Fear

The African swine fever (AFS) epidemic affecting several northern provinces and cities in Vietnam has caused pork consumption in the country to nosedive.

According to Tuoi Tre, the highly contagious disease, which is incurable in pigs but harmless to humans, has spread across 21 northern and north-central provinces and cities. The virus has recently arrived in Thanh Hoa, Hung Yen, Ha Nam, Thai Binh, Hai Phong, Hai Duong and Hanoi. Earlier outbreaks were reported in February.

Consequently, the domestic pig farming industry has lost US$4.3 million daily. Although the virus has been limited to northern and north-central Vietnam, pork consumption nationwide has decreased significantly. In Saigon, on one recent day District 8's Dien Bien Market only sold 190 metric tons of pork, down 35% compared to regular sales. Although the government has reassured people that pork is safe for consumption, many companies and schools have stopped using it to prepare meals for their employees and students.

Kieu Minh Luc, deputy director of CP, a major livestock company, told the news source that Vietnam typically consumes 10,000 metric tons of pork on a daily basis. He also stressed that the recent drop in consumption of pork has had a more devastating effect on the pig farming industry than AFS.

In light of this development, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told regional officials last Monday: “We should combat the epidemic as if we are fighting against the enemy,” Reuters reports. Furthermore, he also called for “drastic measures” from the “whole political system” to fight the disease. More than 4,300 pigs have been infected and destroyed so far.

Vietnam produced 3.82 million tons of pork in 2018, equivalent to 72% of the country’s entire meat production, up 2.2% from 2017, according to Reuters.

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