KOTA KINABALU, May 8 — The effects of African Swine Fever (ASF) and rising pork feed prices have been blamed for the dramatic fall in pork production in Sabah, leading prices to rise.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said as of March this year, the ministry through the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) reported that the ASF had directly caused the deaths of 3,259 backyard pigs, 199 wildpigs and 5,534 commercial pigs.

“These figures do not include unreported cases of ASF infections. Therefore, I urge owners of backyard pigs and commercial pigs to cooperate with the ministry by reporting any deaths that occur on their farms.

“The ministry also advises against selling or transporting live pigs, whether the pigs came from ASF-declared districts or not. All live pigs must be quarantined in situ,” he said.

Jeffrey added that culling processes must also adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set by the DVS and the department must be notified for monitoring and recording purposes.

To compensate for the decreased availability of pork in the market, Jeffrey said the ministry has temporarily permitted the import of pork from Denmark and France.

“The ministry has approved a licence to a local importer to import 28,000kg of pork belly from France, and we have also approved licences to import 241,635 kg of chilled pork and other pork products from Spain, Singapore, China, Denmark and France,” he said.

However, Jeffrey said that ASF is not the only problem that has caused decreased pork production in Sabah or the reason for the increased prices of pork in the local market.

He noted that the increased price of animal feed in the global market has prompted other livestock farmers, not just pork farmers, to reduce production.

The prices of animal feed climbed by 10 to 40 per cent between August of last year and May of this year.

Corn, for example, has risen by 40 per cent, from RM1,500 per metric tonne in August last year to RM2,100 per metric tonne in May this year.

“Farmers have complained about the high production costs. Some even chose to discontinue operations entirely. If the prices of animal feed in the global market continue to rise, I am concerned about the long-term impact on local food security,” he said.

To avoid this food shortage, Jeffrey said his ministry is currently working to increase the number of approved slaughterhouses overseas, allowing more meat, including chicken, to be imported into Sabah.

“The ministry is continually searching for ways to ensure local demands are met while also supporting our local farmers,” he said. — Borneo Post