China aims for southeast to be 70% self-sufficient in pork

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs issued a three-year plan to speed recovery of pig production after the world’s largest hog herd was ravaged by disease, targeting 70% self-sufficiency in pork for the nation’s southeast.

FILE PHOTO: A pork vendor checks her smartphone while waiting for customers at a market in Beijing, China, November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Fang Nanlin

Beijing said its hog herd was down 41% in October from a year earlier, after an epidemic of African swine fever killed millions and stopped many farmers from replenishing herds.

Analysts and industry insiders believe the damage may be worse, with some estimating the herd has dropped by 60% or more.

With consumer inflation close to an eight-year high and the country’s peak consumption period during the Lunar New Year holiday in late January just weeks away, Beijing has repeatedly said its pig stocks will soon recover.

The plan, dated Dec. 4, reiterated a target for pig stocks to stop falling and start picking up by the end of this year, and for production to recover to close to normal levels by the end of 2020.

China issued a series of policies in September aimed at supporting the recovery of hog production, and the plan includes many of those.

It also said the previously announced subsidies for large-scale farms must be issued on time and land permits simplified.

Stronger financial support and insurance must be given to pig breeders, and help for small and medium-sized farmers to resume production, the plan said.

The plan outlines as well a goal to improve the prevention and control of African swine fever and to regulate reporting of outbreaks.

“Once suspected outbreaks are found in various places, they must be standardized and reported as soon as possible,” it said.

The plan also clarifies a regional layout, with the northeast, northern and central south regions, including Hunan, Hubei and Guangxi provinces, to remain major pig production areas that will supply other parts of the country.

The populous southeast coastal provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian as well as the cities of Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai must also achieve a self-sufficiency rate of around 70% for pork.

Southwest and northwest regions including Sichuan should achieve basic self-sufficiency.

Reporting by Min Zhang and Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue