More than 40,000 pigs have died of African Swine Fever in Assam since its detection in the state in early 2020, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora said on Tuesday.
Over 14,000 families have been economically affected as a result of the pig deaths and the disease has spread to 22 districts, the minister told a press conference here.
The African Swine Fever (ASF), which was first detected in the country in Assam in February 2020, affects both domestic and wild pigs.
While swine flu can spread from animals to humans, ASF cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.
Around 900 pigs have died since January 2022 mainly due to the massive flood this year, the minister said.
“This is a deadly disease and the mortality of pigs is 100 per cent. At present 22 districts of Assam having 72 epicentres are affected by ASF. Since March 2020, 40,482 pigs have died of ASF affecting 14,005 pig farming families,” Bora said.
The government culled 1,378 pigs spread across 27 epicentres to contain the spread of the disease in the north-eastern state, he added.
In September 2020, former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal ordered the culling of nearly 12,000 pigs in the ASF-affected areas and asked officials concerned to compensate the owners adequately.
“We have also launched a compensation scheme for the affected families and the government has so far spent Rs 1.48 crore to compensate the farmers whose pigs have been culled,” the minister said.
As per central rules, there is a provision for paying compensation based only on the culling of ASF-affected pigs, Bora said.
He also said that the pigs are culled within three days after the spread of ASF to a particular location and compensation is paid to the farmer within 10 days.
“A high-level committee has been formed to monitor the situation and take adequate measures. As of now, the sale of pork is banned in Tinsukia and Sivasagar districts, having all the epicentres,” Bora said.
The government has formed 427 rapid response teams and launched an extensive awareness drive to sensitise the pig farmers against the spread of the ASF, he added.
The minister also stated that to revive the pig farming sector, a series of programmes had been planned in association with International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and Office International des Epizooties (OIE).
A pig processing centre with a daily capacity to process 400 pigs was ready at Nazira in Sivasagar district.
However, it could not be inaugurated due to the sudden outbreak of the ASF in the region, the minister said.
The state produced 20.88 tonnes of pork in 2020-21 which meets only 60 per cent of the consumption demand. The rest comes from outside the Northeast region, Bora said.
The pig population in the state is estimated to be around 20 lakh, excluding the wild boars roaming in different forests, he added.
Speaking about the impact of the recent flood on the agriculture sector, Bora said that 2.5 lakh hectares of cropland were damaged with most of the areas covered by silt.
“We are focusing on community nurseries with special emphasis on flood-hit areas. We are also focusing on Rabi crops as the Kharif season has been affected by the flood. We have sanctioned Rs 25 crore for it and sought an additional Rs 53 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF),” he added.