The Strategist

Dominican Republic may lose half of its livestock

08/06/2021 - 03:59

The Dominican Republic could lose its source of food - about half its livestock. More than half a million pigs will have to be slaughtered because of an outbreak of African swine fever, writes Bloomberg.

Hundreds of thousands of Dominicans depend on pig farming, according to Francisco Brito, president of the Dominican Pig Federation. The Republic has one of the highest pork consumption rates in the Americas and is self-sufficient.

President of the Upper House of the Agricultural Commission said the government has to kill all pigs, healthy and sick, in 11 of the Dominican Republic's 33 provinces. Otherwise, the disease could cause a repeat of the 1978 outbreak, when all cattle in the country had to be destroyed. According to the Dominican Federation of Pig Breeding, more than half of the entire herd is being culled in these 11 provinces, including the capital Santo Domingo.

The Ministry of Agriculture has begun killing sick animals and isolating affected areas, but has refrained from mass extermination. It is not yet known how many pigs have already been infected.

The United States, Mexico, Brazil and other countries have tightened border controls with the Dominican Republic because of the disease. America - the world's biggest pork producer after China - has never had an outbreak of African swine fever. The US Department of Agriculture fears that the disease will cause serious damage to cattle farmers and the US economy if it enters the country.

African swine fever was first discovered in the early twentieth century. The disease causes fever, weight loss and weakness. The animal dies 7-10 days after infection. A vaccine has not yet been invented, so the only way to stop the plague is to slaughter diseased pigs. The disease is not transmissible to humans.