On 13 March Topigs Norsvin hosted the 2019 Africa Pork Event at the Maslow Hotel in Menlyn. Discussions on African Swine Fever (ASF) took centre stage at the function. Grant Walling, senior genetic scientist at Topigs Norvins kicked the day off with an overview of the global pig industry in the past year. He focused on ASF which has had a significant effect on the global pork market.

ASF in China

The outbreak of the disease in China has drastically reduced output in the pork sector. Apart from the culling of pigs due to ASF, some farmers have sold their pigs and given up pig farming. This has already affected the global meat market.

In 2018, ASF resulted in a loss of 5 million sows, which translates into 75 million less slaughter pigs coming from the Chinese market. This le to a reduction of pork in the international market and a reduction in soya bean imports for feed in China.  Although China only imports about 4% of the global soya bean supply, this represents 90 million tons.

ASF in Russia

Brad Heron, production director of the pork division at Cherkizovo, the largest agricultural enterprise in Russia, gave some insight into the biosecurity protocols they have in place. Cherkizovo’s pig division is larger than the entire South African pig industry but is this enterprise’s smallest division. Heron said in 2014 they lost roughly 87 650 pigs from various farms. The estimated financial loss was close to R400 million.

After this, the company improved biosecurity protocols introducing truck washes, transfer stations, disinfection barriers, audit programmes, quarantine buildings, a central lab and improved mortality removal facilities. Despite this they kept having problems with ASF until they discovered that an employee was stealing semen to inseminate the pigs of back-yard farmers in her community. Heron’s opinion is that controlling people is the most difficult part of a biosecurity system.

Local and international representatives of Topigs Norsvin joined in at the event. Lihandi van Niekerk, Topigs Norsvin South Africa and Henk Janssen, Topigs Norsvin International.

On his visit to South Africa for the Africa Pork Event, Heron noticed a few biosecurity measures on the farms he visited that he will be implementing to improve hygiene protocols. One such measure was the use of dry showers that requires workers to undress completely and clean up before entering the premises.

For more information have a look at the Tweets from the function by clicking here #2019AfricaPorkEvent.  Also look forward to the longer version of this article in the May edition of Stockfarm that will focus on the pig industry. –Ursula Human, AgriOrbit