The latest ASF incident in China was registered near the border with Russia’s Far East region, where some processors are hoping to launch major pig farming projects in the next few years, according to Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor.
ASF in China has already reached the Russian border, claimed Nikolay Vlasov, deputy director of Rosselkhoznadzor during a press conference in Moscow on 22 November. Taking into account the huge volume of illegal cross-border trade between the two countries, there is a high risk that ASF could break out in Primorsky Krai, Amur Oblast and Khabarovsk Krai – three Far East areas considered free from ASF up to now, according to Vlasov.
Vlasov stressed that Rosselkhoznadzor was deeply concerned about the threat of ASF in Russia’s Far East region. He said the veterinary body “has been knocking on every door, issuing warnings about the disease”, although local authorities have not yet taken any official measures to prevent the introduction of the virus into this part of the country.
In a statement on its website, Rosselkhoznadzor said that an outbreak of ASF in the Far East region could have a much worse environmental impact than in the European region of Russia. The veterinary body explained that the region was home to endangered species, such as Siberian tigers and Amur leopards, both of which existed alongside wild boars. Although, these predators are not vulnerable to the ASF virus themselves, there were concerns any local outbreak of the disease might leave them without a feed base.
Russia is divided into eight federal districts and the Far East is the only one, where no ASF outbreaks have been registered so far. As such, this part of the country has long been considered a safety zone for Russia’s pig industry.
According to Rosselkhoznadzor, most outbreaks in the country are still being registered in the European area of Russia. The most easterly outbreak in Russia was near the city of Kranoyarsk, in March 2017, 3,000km away from the Far East region.
The pork market in Russia’s Far East offers the best opportunities for investors, according to the Russian Union of Pork Producers. In 2017, the region produced 64,000 tonnes (t) of pork, while local demand was closer to 200,000t and expected to grow. As a result, local prices for live pigs last year were 75% higher than those in the European area, according to Russian agricultural holding RusAgro.
RusAgro is currently building two major pig farms in Primorsky Krai, each with a planned production capacity of 70,000t of pork a year, according to Maxim Basov, general director of RusAgro. The overall investment cost of the project is RUB29 billion ($450m) and both farms are slated to be launched by the end of 2018.
In future, the company plans to build several other pig farms, in order to increase production in the region to 340,000t, according to Basov.
In addition, there are several other big projects planned for Russia’s Far East. For example, in September 2018, Chinese company GenFund announced plans to invest $600m in pork and dairy production in Russia’s Far East, although no additional details on that project have been released so far.