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Danger for Russian pork industry as African Swine Fever spreads

26-Jun-2013
Last updated on 26-Jun-2013 at 10:10 GMT

African Swine Fever (ASF) is posing a real danger to Russia’s pork industry as it continues to spread throughout the country, according to representatives of the Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor.

“There already have been 37 outbreaks registered in 10 regions of the country: in Yaroslavl Oblast, Tver Oblast, Tula Oblast, Moscow Oblast, Rostov Oblast, Voronezh Oblast, Smolensk Oblast and Volgograd Oblast, Krasnodar Krai and the Republic of North Ossetia – Alania. In addition, the first outbreak in Belarus has been officially confirmed by authorities, while a couple of other outbreaks have been reported naer the border with Ukraine,” said a spokesperson.

So far the majority of the outbreaks have been on small farms, but the authorities warned that the situation is becoming more dangerous, because ASF is now very close to the main pork production regions of Russia.

Two weeks ago an outbreak was reported close to the largest pig-breeding complex of the country in Tambov Oblast, where the pig farms of RusAgro are located. The director of RusAgro, Maxim Basov, has insisted the company’s pig farms have the highest level of protection against ASF.

“However, last week Rosselhoznadzor reported an outbreak of ASF on the Dimitrov Mountain pig farm belonging to the Agropromkomplektatsiya group, which also has the highest level of biological protection against ASF. There were about 8,000 of pigs on the farm and all of them had to be culled in order to stop the further spread of the disease,” said the Rosselkhoznadzor spokesperson.

Experts pointed out that most of the country’s largest pig farms, owned by Miratorg, Agro-Belogorie and RusAgro, are located in the Belgorod Oblast region, which borders with Voronezh Oblast, where ASF is now distributed among domestic pigs.

“If ASF enters Belgorod Oblast the consequences could be terrible,” said an expert at the Russian analytical agency Agrorucom.

Unstoppable epidemic

The first outbreak of ASF in Russia was recorded in November 2007 – it took place in Chechnya with the deaths of several wild boars. As of May 2013 there have since been 394 outbreak of ASF recorded in Russia, according to Rosselkhoznadzor.

Almost half of the outbreaks have occurred on domestic farms, a third have occurred among wild boar and the rest on large pig farms.

So far, direct damage as the result of ASF is estimated to be around RUB30bn (US$1bn). According to various estimates Russia will be able to eradicate ASF on its territory before 2018-2022.

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