GUWAHATI, May 12 - With the outbreak of the African swine fever, animal health issues, especially the pig health issue, have become a serious concern for the State as, for a large section of Assamese youths, piggery is a lucrative way of livelihood.
According to a source in the State veterinary department, till Monday more than 14,000 pigs died of swine fever and new cases have been reported from Nagaon district.
In Assam the entire piggery sector has been suffering from a number of issues or challenges right from the early days. According to the Assam Pig Breeding Policy, 2019, the pig farmers of Assam are facing six major challenges including the pig health issue.
The policy stated that there is a big gap between the requirement and availability of feed and feed crops in Assam, particularly when it comes to pigs. This is because cultivation of maize, which is an important feed ingredient for pigs, is not popular in Assam. Because of this its cost is very high in the State and availability is not adequate.
Similarly, the indigenous varieties of pig are very poor performers in terms of body weight and prolificacy and it makes them unsuitable for profitable commercial ventures. The policy further stated that though achievable, improvement of the indigenous pigs through scientific selection as pure breeding stock is time consuming with an uncertainty factor.
Citing the issue of climate change and global warming, the policy stated that both the factors may have serious implications on the pig sector, which may manifest in the form of heat stress, scarcity of quality and feed crops along with changes in the epidemiological pattern of vector-borne diseases.
To address the issue of climate change and global warming, the policy suggested research on impact of climate change on pig production along with modification of feeding systems. It also emphasised the need to make efforts for better management of farm yard manure through composting and bio-gas plants under different programmes.
Knowledge gap at the level of primary producers is also a major issue, which needs to be addressed in the State�s piggery sector. The policy said that most of the pig producers of the State are small and marginal farmers who have limited capacity to adopt the latest technological advancements.
Above all, the policy said, the piggery sector of Assam is handicapped by an inadequate marketing and processing infrastructure. As a result, in most of the cases, primary producers do not get remunerative prices.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Chairman of the Assam Livestock And Poultry Corporation (ALPCo) Manoj Saikia asserted that precaution and bio-safety measures are the ways to prevent the African swine fever in the State, as it is for the first time that the disease has been reported in the country.
Saikia also informed that ALPCo has sold around 27 tonnes of mutton, 18 tonnes of chicken and 20,800 plates of eggs during the current lockdown. Again, more than 200 local youths got employment through ALPCo�s home delivery venture and retail sale. By selling various products ALPCo has earned around Rs 2,60,00,000 during the lockdown so far, Saikia added.