Over the last 30 years, pork production has rapidly changed in terms of increasing the number of kept pigs. For instance, in 2018, Thailand’s Department of Livestock Development reported that “the majority of swine household was smallholders (93.51%, while the 6.48% of large-scale farms were classified as small farms for 4.98% (50 to 500 pigs), medium farms for 1.37% (500 to 5000 pigs), and large farms for 0.13% (more than 5000 pigs).” And even though with a total increase of the pig population, the number of the smallholders decreased, while the number of pigs per household increased. During 2014-2018, intensive pig production systems have been growing at a rate of 8.90 per year, according to Thailand’s Office of Agricultural Economics.
For the last decades, the production of pork significantly increased in Asian regions, i.e, China that possesses over 50% of the world pig population. “In 2016, pork consumption in China was ~54.98 million tons, which required around 1.62 million tons of imported pork to supply the domestic demand, according to the FAO Report in 2018. However, Rabobank estimated that pork imports in China increased to 2 million tons in the first half of 2019 because the Chinese pork production had dropped up to 55% from the African Swine Fever (AFS) outbreak. Moreover, ASF outbreaks cause serious consequences for other high pork consumption countries in Asia, including Hong Kong (SAR-PRC), Japan, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Malaysia, and the Republic of Korea, which require massive pork imports to supply their domestic consumption.”
Read more: Spread of ASF China and Its Impact
In Vietnam, the spreading of ASF occurred rapidly. “After a few months, the epidemic reached its peak, having spread to more than 8,200 communes in 63 provinces and cities within 9 mo. After 1 year, the loss officially reported due to the ASF epidemic was ~6 million head (accounting for 21.5% of the total herd), equivalent to the total pork weight loss of 342,091 tons (accounting for 9.0% of total pork production in the country). In Vietnam, pork production accounts for 71.5% of the livestock industry (in 2018) and is the main source of meat for local consumer diets. Therefore, the role of pork production is very important to the Vietnamese people and socio-economic activities associated with agriculture policies, food security, animal feed, veterinary, jobs, science and education, transportation, and other related activities. Comparing to the year before the ASF outbreak, the Vietnamese total pig herd and pork production volume decreased by 11.5% and 13.8%, respectively. The cumulative reduction in the total pig herd due to ASF immediately prompted the rapid growth of poultry production (16.5%), ruminant (over 5.0%), and other farm animals (over 3.0%) as well as rapidly increased pork imports in 2019 (63.0%).”
Read more: ASF Penetration into the Vietnamese Swine Herds and Its Impact
The legislation still remains non-existent in Asia with regard to pigs and some other farmed animals. Some countries in Asia already have animal welfare acts, but they usually do not apply to farmed animals. The same situation is in countries where animal law is progressive - farmed animals are not protected by law unless they are used for research or other purposes. Apart from the factors that pigs are cruelly treated on factory farms and in slaughterhouses, there are environmental and health concern aspects of the pork industry. There is always a way to stop contributing to this industry, and every small step matters.