China faces double whammy from coronavirus infections and African Swine flu, food security at risk

On Monday, an official from China’s agriculture ministry stated, its farm production and market operations face significant challenges this year and faces a double threat of imported coronavirus cases as well as African swine fever.

During a video conference on the outlook for agriculture, China’s deputy minister Yu Kangzhen stated, floods, droughts and pests present a stronger threat to agricultural output this year.

“The control and prevention situation for the African swine fever disease and coronavirus outbreak is complex,” said Yu. “African swine fever risks have significantly increased with more transport of pigs…The risk of imported coronavirus is still huge and will put considerable pressure on livestock production.”

Beijing’s food industry has been hit by the coronavirus outbreak which started in its central city of Wuhan in late 2019, before it spread to the whole world causing 2.3 million infections and more than 159,000 deaths.

To contain the pandemic, China imposed strict lockdowns and quarantines which ravaged its supply chains and made it very difficult to find a workforce for its industries.

The coronavirus comes in the wake of an African swine fever disease which slashed pork supplies with China’s pig herds seeing a fall of at least 40%.

“Some countries have began measures to limit food exports and increase procurement for reserves,” said Yu, adding that global trade and markets are battling uncertainty brought by the pandemic that has caused some major price fluctuations. “If the epidemic continues to spread, it will cause a huge shock to international food trade and might trigger a new round of food crisis”.

Consumption of meat is expected to recover once production resumes, said Yu, which is likely to weigh on future supplies.

Speaking at the same conference, China’s Agriculture Minister Han Changfu boldly ruled out a food crisis saying, China had the confidence and even the ability to secure supplies of grain and other major agricultural products.

While China has managed to contain to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections in the country with strict measures, infections are seeing a resurgence from overseas arrivals.

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