China calls for revival in pork production after disease outbreak

FILE PHOTO: A man sweeps next to pigs kept temporarily inside a vehicle in Baise, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have called for a revival of pork production, state media outlet Xinhua reported on Saturday, after a disease outbreak that decimated the national pig herd.

At an agricultural conference in Beijing, attended by President Xi Jinping, officials said it was necessary to accelerate pig production by implementing favorable policies, the agency reported.

Officials also called for the stabilization of grain output, according to Xinhua.

China - the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork - has lost 40% of its pig herd since last year after deadly African swine fever swept through the country. Tightening supply has pushed up pork prices.

In September, China introduced a number of policies aimed at boosting hog production, such as subsidizing the construction of large pig farms and lowering the cost of land for farms.

An agriculture ministry official said this week China was also increasing its efforts to encourage small farmers to resume pig production.

Yang Zhenhai, director of the Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau of China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said in October that he forecast a return to usual pig numbers next year.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Luoyan Liu; Editing by Ros Russell