Authorities in this city in Guangdong Province have pledged to ban all pig farming from 2009 amid talk of pork price hikes, as part of efforts to clean up the environment.
The ban will be carried out in four phases, said Dongguan Vice-Mayor Li Xiaomei at a meeting on Tuesday to address the problem of live poultry pollution.
Local authority officials will inspect pig farms that are allowed to operate before the deadline and make public their decisions by December 15.
Up to 433 pig farms in 10 Dongguan towns, rearing 100,000 pigs, have secured temporary operation passes, the Southern Metropolis Daily has reported.
The pig farms must now meet seven conditions - including being located in approved areas for pig-farming; not disrupting the lives of residents; not spoiling the appearance of the city and not polluting water resources.
Those who fail to meet the conditions will be closed down by the end of this year, Li said, adding that even those with temporary operational passes will be removed by the end of next year.
Meanwhile, Dongguan trade and agriculture agencies have selected 51 pig farms outside the city to supply 4 million pigs annually, to satisfy the demand for pork.
To meet any contingency, the government plans to increase the number of pig suppliers outside the city to double supply to 8 million annually by the end of this year, said Ye Jinrui, deputy director of the agriculture department in Dongguan.
The amount of pigs in stock from January to October was 750,000, an amount which produce as many pollutants as a human population of 4.5 million, Mayor Li was quoted by the Guangzhou-based newspaper as saying.
"The pigs generate more than 1.3 million tons of sewage. Given the cost of 0.8 yuan per ton for sewage treatment, it will cost nearly 400 million yuan ($54 million) a year, or 547 yuan per pig," Li said, adding that it is difficult to offset costs by raising pigs.
Dongguan environmental protection chief Yuan Shaodong said few farmers treated their waste and this is leading to pollution problems.
Su Qingyuan, who invested 12 million yuan in a farm in 1998, producing about 15,000 pigs a year, said he would continue to operate until the deadline arrived. He said he did not know what he would do after.
Some residents and academics were against the decision to remove the piggeries.
"Pollution is not a good reason to ban an industry, otherwise many other industries such as chicken farms and restaurants would be banned," said a resident, surnamed Lin.
(China Daily December 6, 2007)