New ASF outbreaks raise concerns over future of Ukraine pig industry

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Warnings over African swine fever have been issued by the Ukraine State Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service
Warnings over African swine fever have been issued by the Ukraine State Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service

Related tags: Wild boar, Pig, Livestock, Pork

Meat industry executives in Ukraine have warned that African swine fever is posing a serious threat to the country’s pig industry, following the discovery of several new outbreaks of the disease, including in the Sumy, Poltava, Odessa and Mykolaiv Oblasts. 

Ukraine’s State Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service (Gosvetfitosluzhba) has criticised the lack of effort from farmers who are unwilling to improve biosecurity on their premises. A recent wave of inspections revealed 4,000 different biosecurity violations on farms and Gosvetfitosluzhba warned that this could result in further outbreaks soon.

“This ​[the result of inspections] suggests many producers are still not aware that on-farm biosecurity measures are intended not only to protect their own livestock, but also to prevent the disease from spreading, so as to avoid a catastrophe on a global scale,”​ said Oksana Yurchenko, vice-president of Ukraine’s Association of Pig Producers (APP).

Recent forecasts from market participants have predicted that ASF could be present in the country for the next 20-30 years and APP confirmed the situation was very serious. “The identification of an ASF outbreak in Sumy Oblast confirms that we have an endemic source of the virus in the Chernihiv Oblast and the regions that border it. Unfortunately, it is still not possible to control the situation. The virus circulates among wild boars and reaches domestic pigs on both smallholdings and industrial farms,”​ explained head of APP Artur Loza.

Meanwhile, experts have also pointed out that, due to a lack of information on ASF in the military zone, Ukrainian veterinarians have not been able to monitor the spread of the virus there. Also, several industrial farms are still operating in the territory controlled by rebel forces.

Earlier, Irina Palamar, head of the Association of Livestock Producers in Ukraine, noted that the spread of the disease could threaten the stability of the country’s pork market. “There is the threat of a pork shortage in Ukraine. Also, we face a social threat, as pigs are a source of food for many rural homes,​” said Palamar.

Ukraine has already banned imports of pork from the Baltics and Poland, due to the presence of ASF in these countries.

Industry observers believe that all these factors combined could lead to a jump in prices in the market in the months ahead.

“In autumn, due to greater stability in the foreign exchange market, consumers should only see a slight increase in prices for beef, pork and poultry meat, which would be insignificant thanks to relatively stable feed prices. However, despite a good harvest for feed crops, the costs associated with grain storage and logistics this winter will jump and, by the New Year, prices will soar,”​ Palamar predicted.

Related topics: Meat

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