African swine fever casts a shadow on lives of pig farmers in Wayanad

Demand for pork has fallen after the outbreak of swine fever in Kerala

Updated - July 30, 2022 04:21 pm IST

Published - July 29, 2022 08:02 pm IST - KALPETTA:

A farmer at his farm at Thavinhal in Wayanad district.

A farmer at his farm at Thavinhal in Wayanad district.

Poor demand for pork after the outbreak of African swine fever in two pig farms in Wayanad has cast a cloud over the lives of pig farmers.

“Usually farmers in the district prefer to sell their pigs during the Karkidaka Vavu days as they will get a better price owing to the good demand across the State. Nearly 50% of the animals will be sold during the period. But this year no farmer could sell a single animal after the disease was confirmed in two farms in the district,” says K.S. Raveendran, owner of Kalindhi pig farm at Thavinhal.

He had 400 pigs in his farm, of which 120 were to be sold during the season. He had sold 146 pigs to traders from Idukki last year at a better price.

“The condition of other farmers in the district is no different,” says Mr.Raveendran, also the vice president of the Kerala Livestock Farmers’ Association.

According to the data available with the association, as many as 500 farmers are engaged in pig farming in the district, rearing over 20,000 pigs.

Many have ventured into pig farming as they could earn good income in a shorter period. The low cost to set up a farm, quick growth of animals, and the availability of food waste from markets free of cost to feed the animal are the major attractions.

Uncertainty in the industry after the outbreak is a major concern for farmers, says M.V. Wilson, district president of the association.

“An animal will attain 100 to 110 kg in ten months and if the owner could not sell it on time, it will grow quickly and reach 200 kg in a few months. There is no demand for such animals as nearly 40% of the meat contains fat,” he says.

“We have no idea about how to feed the animals, maintain the farm, and pay wages to workers,” says Mr. Wilson.

African swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease in domestic and wild pigs. It does not pose a threat to humans as it will not be transmitted from pigs to humans.

Though the disease has been reported only from two farms, close to 500 animals were culled in three other farms in a radius of one km to contain the spread of the disease.

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