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New Life Breathed into Pig Raising
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The government yesterday dispatched more special teams to the country's main pig raising bases in an apparent move to boost the hog business nationwide.

Sun Zhengcai, minister of agriculture, said the mission of the teams is to get a clear picture of the current scale of pig production and promote preferential policies to help farmers regain their confidence.

"Pig raising is now the central task and tops the agenda of the Ministry of Agriculture," said Sun.

Thirty special teams have been sent to 60 major pig raising cities and counties in 20 provinces.

Pork prices have been soaring in recent months due to a sharp fall in supply, with prices in many places are almost double that of last year.

In Beijing, official figures show that pork prices saw a year-on-year increase of 53 percent in June.

Coupled with the driving force of rising egg and poultry prices, the consumer price index (CPI) showed a 4.4 percent year-on-year increase in June, a number widely believed to exert huge pressure on inflation. Food prices make up a third of the inflation basket.

A statement issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Commerce this month attributed the pork price hikes this year to low prices last year, which dampened the ardor of most raisers.

And a severe blue-ear pig disease struck the southern part of the country this year, which led to a widespread abortion of sows and the death of thousands of piglets.

In addition, a global grain price hike also pushed animal feed prices to new highs, it said.

High pork prices are expected to last for a long time.

"Though the rising prices since May are prompting more farmers to take to raising pigs again, it takes some time before the piglets go on sale," it said.

Sun ordered the special teams to assess the difficulties farmers face; and encourage them to raise more pigs as well as educate them on disease prevention.

The ministry announced on its website local phone numbers to report any suspicious cases of the highly pathogenic blue-ear pig disease.

The ministry said that the Yangtze River Delta is currently the worst hit and has ordered a ban on pig trading in the areas where the disease broke out.

Cases of the blue-ear pig disease have been found in 25 provinces till now, killing nearly 40,000 pigs, the ministry said.

(China Daily July 24, 2007)

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