Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has asked local governments at all levels to ensure the supply of pork and maintain market order amid rising concerns over soaring pork prices.
"We have noticed the recent rise in pork prices, and the government is going all out to ensure the supply of pork and keep it affordable," Wen told a crowd in a supermarket during his visit in Xi'an on Saturday for an investigation into pig-raising and pork markets.
A resident of Xi'an in the supermarket told Wen they can still afford the pork price at the moment, however they feel pressured at the thought of impending hikes.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, in April live pigs nationwide were priced 71.3 percent higher than a month earlier, and pork, 29.3 percent higher, largely due to tightened supply.
The price of pork in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province, has risen from 14 yuan (US$1.8) a kilogram to 17 yuan (US$2.2) within a few days.
In Beijing, the pork price went up more than 30 percent in recent days, while wholesale price in Shanghai has hit 16 yuan (US$2.1) per kilogram, a record high for a decade, up 20 percent month-on-month.
The number of live pigs in stock in the village declined from more than 7,000 to more than 3,500 since the second half of last year due to price drops, the head of Sanqu Village in Shaanxi's Xingping City, which focuses on pig-raising, told Wen.
"Pig raisers kept making losses over the past couple years and they are reluctant to raise pigs. This led to a marginal decline in population of live pigs for the current year," according to Xu Lianzhong, a senior economist with the price supervision center under the National Development and Reform Commission.
The outbreak of blue ear disease, also known as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), which caused many pig deaths and culling was an immediate cause of a short supply, according to Xu.
Wen said the pig production and market supply of pork is directly related to people's livelihood, and urged local governments to take relevant measures.
Subsidizes should be offered to farmers who raise sows, the Premier said.
He also required the local governments to keep a closer eye on the quality, price, and quarantine inspection of pork to maintain an orderly market.
Li Xizhen, head of the market monitoring department under the Ministry of Commerce said earlier, "The Ministry will follow closely changes on the pork market. National pork reserves will be used if necessary."
It would take about a year to resume the original stock of 7,000 pigs at Sanqu Village, local farmers said.
(Xinhua News Agency May 28, 2007)