HANOI, May 15 (Xinhua) -- The first three provinces in Vietnam's southern region, including the country's biggest pig-raising hub, have hit by African swine fever (ASF), forcing authorities and farmers to take urgent measures to curb the disease.
The presence of recent ASF outbreaks in the three southern provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc and Hau Giang has shown the strong spread and the high danger of the animal disease, online newspaper Dang Cong San Viet Nam (Communist Party of Vietnam) under management of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee's Commission for Education and Information reported on Wednesday.
According to the Hau Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, an ASF outbreak was reported in Hau Giang's Chau Thanh district on May 14, after two outbreaks were detected in the province's Vi Thuy district on May 5 and April 11. Hau Giang is the first province in the southwestern region, or the Mekong Delta, hit by ASF.
In Hau Giang, over 15,000 households currently raise pigs with a total pig population of some 160,000, said the provincial department.
The first ASF outbreak in Binh Phuoc, a province in the southeastern region, was reported on May 8, among a group of seven pigs raised by a household in Dong Phu district. After that, two outbreaks were detected in the same district.
Dong Nai, Vietnam's biggest pig-raising locality with some 2.5 million pigs, spotted the first ASF outbreak on April 24 in Trang Bom district, and since then it has seen two more affected districts, local online newspaper VnExpress on May 13.
To date, five communes of three districts of Dong Nai have been stricken by ASF, leading to the forced culling of over 800 pigs, VnExpress quoted Vo Van Chanh, vice chairman of the provincial People's Committee, as saying.
"In March, seeing the spread of ASF in the northern and central regions, I decided to sell all 1,300 pigs. Then I planned to raise pigs again if the disease did not spread to Dong Nai, but now I have to leave my pigsties empty for a longer period of time," Nguyen Hieu, a farm owner in Trang Bom, told Xinhua on Wednesday.
Since the first ASF outbreak was detected in early February in northern Hung Yen province, the disease has so far spread to 29 localities nationwide, mostly in northern and central regions.
ASF had occurred in 2,296 communes in 204 districts of 29 cities and provinces as of May 12 in Vietnam with more than 1.2 million pigs, or over 4 percent of the country's total pig population, being infected with the disease and culled, Vietnam News Agency quoted the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as saying on Monday.
Regarding possible reasons for the spread of ASF in Vietnam, both foreign and local experts said authorities have been making great efforts to strictly control the transport and trading pigs and pig products in areas with ASF outbreaks, but the efforts should be bigger.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health sent a delegation of experts to Vietnam to assess the situation of ASF in the country, Vietnam News Agency reported on March 19. The experts noted that low biosecurity and the habit of using kitchen leftover as pig feed of small pig-raising households are factors behind the disease's spread.
Local online newspaper Dan Tri (People's Knowledge) has quoted Vietnam's Department of Animal Health as saying that some Vietnamese people have not been aware of the danger of ASW, and wanted to secure their personal benefits, so they have not culled and buried infected pigs as required, but secretly slaughtered, transported and traded them, leading to the spread of the animal disease.
To cope with the ASF spread, the Vietnamese government has assigned and instructed relevant ministries, agencies and localities nationwide to take urgent measures.
During a teleconference held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Monday, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung requested the involvement of the entire political system in the fight against ASF, Vietnam News Agency reported.
The deputy prime minister assigned the Agriculture Ministry to issue documents guiding the slaughter of pigs in affected areas under the supervision of veterinary agencies, and to partner with ministries and agencies concerned to outline policies to support farmers and businesses who have had their inflected pigs culled.
He also asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to work with ministries, agencies, and provincial People's Committees to purchase and slaughter pigs for cold storage to balance pork supply during the remaining months of this year.
Cities and provinces nationwide will be guided on how to build five national quarantine stations to ensure requirements for animal transportation in major localities along the north-south highway.
After Dong Nai was hit by ASF, Ho Chi Minh City has strengthened operations of inter-sectoral inspection delegations, and established three more checkpoints in areas bordering Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces, a leader of the Thu Duc Animal Quarantine Station in the city's Thu Duc district, told Xinhua.