African swine fever virus is spreading rapidly in Ukraine

The number of ASFV cases in Ukraine has already exceeded last year’s figures: there were 92 outbreaks this year compared to 91 in 2016. Because of the nature of the disease, there will be even more cases in 2018, says “Agro-Center” with reference to “Agropoltal”.

Oksana Yurchenko, vice president of Pig Breeders of Ukraine Association, spoke about ASFV, how to stay protected from it and whether pork will become more expensive because of the virus.

Many factors influence the spreading of ASFV. In particular, there is no identification of pigs in the household sector (such farms are the primary factor for the spreading of the disease), as well as no register of livestock movement.
It interferes with the ability of The State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection to monitor and control the situation.
Undoubtedly, we see a dynamic. During the last few years, the number of livestock on farms and in the industrial sector has decreased. Last year, the price of pork did not allow manufacturers to make money at all (marginality of even the most efficient enterprises was minimal). Plus there were occasional cases of ASFV. All this did not contribute to the active development of the industry.

This year the situation has changed for the better. We may say that most representatives of the industrial sector of pork production are planning to increase production. The African swine fever virus is the reality they have to deal with.

During the years of ASFV, some manufacturers have invested in improving the biosafety, and it has given results. This year’s outbreaks of ASFV were not registered on large farms. The disease hit small farms (up to 1000 heads). And this is, in essence, amateur business, and such manufacturers are not ready to invest in biosafety.

Of course, ASFV is one of the risk factors for the industry. However, we cannot say that because of the ASFV there will be a sharp decline in the number of animals in Ukraine. According to analytical data, about 60 thousand ASFV-infected heads (both industrial and household farms) were eliminated. This figure is not critical for Ukrainian pig breeding industry.

ASFV will not influence meat prices. When an outbreak occurs, and everyone talks about it (the media, people in private, etc.), it negatively affects both a consumer and those who want to sell meat. Very often people receive incorrect information. Having heard about the virus, buyers refuse to buy pork. And with panic on the market, dealers are trying to sell more meat. Accordingly, the more meat hits the counters, the more prices fall.

First of all, ASFV influences the reputation of pork as a meat variety.

The main negative consequence of ASFV is Ukraine’s inability to sell pork to most of the foreign markets. At the moment, we have only a few alternatives. It is Georgia, the country Ukraine closely cooperates with. This country is also ASFV-positive. Almost 70% of pork and thousands of live pigs go to Georgia. Other markets are closed to us. Aas long as there is ASFV in Ukraine, they will not open.

How does ASFV threaten the industry? Currently, in Ukraine, consumption of pork exceeds production. Therefore, pig breeders are quite comfortable – there is demand for products. However, if pig farming continues to develop, it will lead to overproduction, which will negatively affect the price. At some point, pork manufacturers might have to narrow down the business.

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