Assam to cull 12,000 pigs as African swine fever spreads


Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday ordered to cull nearly 12,000 pigs in the areas affected by the deadly African swine fever and asked officials to compensate the owners adequately.

So far, 18,000 pigs have died after contracting the virus across 14 districts of the state, a senior official of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department told PTI.

“Chairing a meeting with department officials, the chief minister said that in compliance with the guidelines of the Centre and the state government, and adhering to experts” opinion, culling of the infected swine population in all the affected districts should be completed before Durga Puja,” according to an official statement.

The total number of pigs to be killed in this exercise will be around 12,000, it added.

“As a result of the culling operation, the loss incurred by the farmers will be adequately compensated,” Sonowal said.

The latest culling drive will be carried out within one kilometre radius of 30 epicentres across the 14 affected districts, the senior official said.

“We will start the exercise immediately,” he added.

When asked about the compensation, the official said the owners of the 12,000 pigs will get the money deposited in their bank accounts, while a proposal has been sent to the government for giving financial support to the owners of the 18,000 pigs that have died already.

During the meeting, Sonowal informed that the Centre has already released the first instalment of the fund and the state government will immediately deposit its share for the compensation as well as for other measures to deal with the pestilence.

He also asked the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to sensitise the affected areas to avert transfer of infection to healthy animals and directed to conduct a survey on all the government farms across the state.

The meeting also discussed the supply of pigs to Assam from different parts of the country.

In the aftermath of the ASF outbreak, the supply of pigs from outside the state was put on hold as per the directions of the central government.

Sonowal asked the senior officers of the department to ensure that no encumbrances creep in while transporting pigs to other states of the Northeast through Assam.

To involve more youths in the piggery sector, the government farms may be operated and managed on public- private-partnership mode to encourage entrepreneurship, he added.

According to a 2019 census by the department, the pig population in the state was 21 lakh, which has increased in recent times to around 30 lakh, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora had said.

Bora had stated the disease was first detected in the state in February-end this year, but it started in April 2019 at a village in Xizang province in China, bordering Arunachal Pradesh.

The African swine fever is a pig ailment, which was first reported in 1921 in Kenya and Ethiopia, and an outbreak is very rare in this part of the country.

While swine flu can spread from animals to humans, swine fever does not, and therefore is not a public health threat. PTI