FILE PHOTO: Pork for sale is seen at a supermarket in Beijing, China, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Guangdong province said it will release 3,150 tonnes of frozen pork from reserves during the upcoming holidays, part of a campaign to secure supplies of the country’s favorite meat, local media reported on Monday, after a devastating disease ravaged the hog herd.
The pig herd in the major pork consuming region has fallen 34% from the previous year in the first half of 2019, while the sow herd dropped 43%, the Nanfang Daily reported, citing government statistics.
“Hog supplies will face an unprecedented, grave test,” the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed official with the provincial agriculture bureau, as it will be increasingly difficult to transport pigs into Guangdong from outside provinces due to falling production nationwide.
Various factors, including the environmental crackdown on illegal pig farming and outbreaks of African swine fever, are behind the fall, the official said.
Guangdong relies on supplies from other provinces. Authorities in Guangzhou, the capital city of the province, have said they will release 1,600 tonnes of frozen pork from reserves in September.
Major pig producers in the region including the Guangdong branch of agribusiness giant New Hope Liuhe, said they will further expand hog production in the area to help with supplies.
Liuhe, which currently supplies about 300,000 hogs a year in Guangdong, will add another 50,000 pigs to the market in the second half of the year, and expand pig production by 700,000 heads next year, according to Li Weifeng, general manager in charge of the Guangdong new district at the firm, the newspaper reported.
Local authorities are also promoting modern and large scale pig farms, to secure pork supplies in the region in the long run, the paper said.
China’s state planner said on Monday it will issue subsidies of up to 5 million yuan ($700,000) to support the construction of large-scale pig farms.
Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton, editing by Louise Heavens