Zambia’s main pork producer expresses concern over African swine fever outbreak

pig farm
pig farm

The country’s Ministry of Agriculture and livestock announced on Saturday that African swine fever, a highly contagious viral disease that could kill 95 to 100 percent of affected pigs, had broken in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, and another nearby town, Chilanga.

The government has announced a ban on the movement of pigs and pig products into and out of the capital and from one area to another within the capital in order to contain the disease.

But Master Pork Limited said it was working closely with experts in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to contain the outbreak. “While the disease does not affect humans, it can have a devastating effect on pig herds,” Felix Lupindula, the company’s special assistant to the chief executive officer for operations, was quoted as saying by the paper.

While revealing that there have been no incidences of African swine fever in the pigs supplied to the company so far, the official said they were monitoring the situation on a continuous basis, adding that the company will limit its process operations to plants that were in areas unaffected by the disease.

The official however acknowledged that the reduced supply of raw material will inevitably affect the company’s ability to the demand.

An outbreak of African swine flu in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, has killed more than 1,682 pigs for the past month, prompting the government to put in place measures to contain the outbreak, a senior official said on Monday.

Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Robert Sichinga said preliminary estimates indicate that 11,000 pigs have so far been affected by the disease on 14 farms and another 14,000 animals from areas near the affected farms are at risk of contracting the disease. The minister however said the figures could be much higher because some farmers were not being cooperative while others may be under-reporting the mortalities.

Immediate measures have been instituted to contain and eradicate African swine fever from Lusaka Province. To that effect, pork processing plants have been directed to stop processing pork. In addition, all pig movements and marketing in Lusaka Province has been banned with immediate effect,” he told journalists at a press briefing at his office.

According to the Zambian minister, check points have been mounted in various places to enforce pig and pig products movement in order to save the country’s pig industry.

The government, he said, will slaughter 25,000 pigs from the affected farms in order to eradicate the disease since there is no cure or preventive vaccine for the disease and that all the affected farmers will be compensated.

The ministry is still carrying out surveillance measures to determine the full extent of the geographic spread, the number of farms and the number of animals affected by the disease, he added.

This is the third time African swine fever has been found in Zambia in recent years with the last outbreak recorded in 2004. The first outbreak was reported in 1994. African swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease that could kill 95 to 100 percent of affected pigs.