Manash Pratim Dutta

GUWAHATI, Jan 25: The African Swine Fever (ASF), which has greatly affected the rural economy of Assam by taking the lives of thousands of pigs in the past few months, will take around two years to come under complete control, sources in the State veterinary department told The Assam Tribune.

As per government data, till date around 20,000 pigs have died in the State due to the disease. But a section of pig rearers claimed that lakhs of pigs have perished across the State since May last year. The prices of pork have seen a steady rise in the last few months, reaching Rs 340-350 a kg in Guwahati of late.

Meanwhile, veterinary experts informed that the virulence capacity of the ASF virus has now come down drastically and as a result the mortality rate has also decreased considerably in the past few days in comparison to the days when the disease first broke out in the State.

A source further informed that the communication has already made with the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) or World Organisation for Animal Health, Geneva seeking permission to reintroduce pig farming in the ASF- affected areas. But it will take a long time to get the permission, as the process is very tough and lengthy.

On the other hand, although in the initial stage of outbreak of the disease, Veterinary Minister Atul Bora claimed that the disease spread from China to Arunachal Pradesh and then entered upper Assam, a section of veterinary experts asserted that till now the path of passage of the ASF virus from China has remain untraced. Sources further informed that the medicine used in treating pox disease of animal is under consideration for treating ASF too.

In another development, the North East Progressive Pig Farmers’ Association (NEPPFA), an umbrella organisation of more than 500 commercial pig farmers of the region, raised the demand for a rehabilitation package for the affected pig rearers. The organisation has also filed a writ petition in the Gauhati High Court seeking restriction on transportation of pigs from outside the State as per the Animal Disease Control and Prevention Act, 2009.