Imphal: Even as Manipur continues to deal with the devastating ethnic crisis six months after it began, there has been an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) that has killed hundreds of pigs, dealing a major blow to farmers in seven districts in the northeastern state.
The Manipur Veterinary and Animal Husbandry (VAH) department has stepped up measures to combat the ASF as the contagious disease has been reported from pig farms in at least seven districts — Imphal West, Imphal East, Ukhrul, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Kakching and Kamjong.
The VAH department officials on Friday said that the latest outbreak of ASF has been confirmed at five piggery farms located at Lilong Chajing Mamang Leikei, Konthoujam Maning Leikai, Loitang Khunou, Luker and Sairemkhul in Imphal West district.
A notification issued by the Deputy Commissioner (Imphal West) on Thursday said that particular farms have been declared as epicentres and areas within one km radius of those farms as infected zones. Further, areas within a 10 km radius from those farms have been declared as surveillance zones, and all of them constitute controlled areas.
The notification strictly prohibited movement of pigs (dead or alive) in the controlled areas along with “movement and sale of pork and feed within the infected zone and materials that could have come in contact with the infected or suspected to be infected animals.”
“Culling of all pigs of the infected zone shall be done by the officials of Veterinary and Animal husbandry Department, Manipur,” it said, adding all equipment/tools as well as vehicles used in the farms that have pigs, either infected or suspected to be infected, shall be restricted from movement without protocols.
VAH Director Ibotombi Singh said that since the ASF has been confirmed in the laboratory reports, department officials and doctors are working round-the-clock to combat further spread of the epidemic.
“We have sent out four to seven teams of our department’s doctors and staff in every district of the state to fight the spread of ASF. Besides taking up culling of pigs at the infected zone, they also intensified surveillance activities at the surveillance zones,” he added.
Awareness programmes have also been taken up at other ASF-free districts, Singh said, adding that a state-level awareness programme on it would be held soon.
The highly-contagious ASF often creates havoc in various northeastern states including Mizoram every year, where during 2021 and 2022, over 33,400 pigs were killed, affecting over 10,000 families besides causing a financial loss of Rs 61 crore.
According to experts, the outbreak of ASF may have been caused by pigs or pork brought from neighbouring Myanmar, Bangladesh and the adjoining states of the northeast.
The northeast region’s annual pork business is worth around Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 crore, with Assam being the largest supplier. Pork is one of the most common and popular meats consumed by both the tribals and non-tribals in the northeastern region.