In the first half of 2016, state veterinary service Rosselkhoznadzor revealed 78 ASF outbreaks in 30 districts across 10 out of the country’s 24 regions, including 68 outbreaks identified on pig farms and 10 outbreaks among wild boars, Martynyuk said.
“To cap it all, the spread of ASF in Ukraine accelerated when infected meat hit the grocery shelves. For example, in smoked ham the virus can remain active for 150 days. It [the virus] is extremely tenacious in the external environment,” he added.
Martynyuk has also expressed concerns over the ongoing rise in domestic pork prices, which, in his opinion, was also associated with ASF, although the Ministry anticipated this would stop in a couple of months, as this year’s harvest is likely to take the feed prices down.
Ukraine’s Association of Pork Producers (APP) has estimated the total number of pigs in the country at 6.3 million head, claiming this figure was 10.5% lower than in the first half of 2016.
According to a release published on APP’s website, the reduction in the pig population has been provoked primarily by ASF, with the largest drop recorded in Donetsk Oblast, where the number of pigs collapsed by 51.9% between early 2016 and early 2017.
APP chairman Artur Loza also noted that Ukraine was likely to face a shortage of pork in 2017 as, in addition to the overall fall in the pig population, the number of sows in the country dropped even more dramatically – by 30.4% or 234,500 head in the period compared to last year.
“We see all the prerequisites for a shortage of pork in the domestic market, but it hasn’t been recorded yet, primarily due to the weak purchasing power of the population,” said Loza.
Ukraine might be able to overcome the shortage in the second half of 2018, while by 2025, forecast Loza, domestic demand will rise by 50% to 900,000 tonnes compared to 2017.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s State Statistical Service was not so optimistic, as it has also pointed to the severe risks presented by ASF in recent reports, suggesting that, as of now, “up to 3 million head of pigs are in danger”. As a result, it said the continuing spread of the virus could still reduce the domestic pig industry.
Petro Kornilo, a spokesperson for the State Food and Consumer Service, told GlobalMeatNews that if government agencies failed to tackle the disease, Ukraine would lose 1.2 million head of pigs between 2017 and 2020, suffering UAH 4 billion (US$155m) in direct losses as a result. The indirect losses, in the form of missed profit and an absence of investment in the industry, would amount to an additional UAH5bn–UAH7.5bn (US$192m-US$288m), he added.