GUWAHATI: African Swine Flu (ASF) has posed a threat to the existence of local pigs in the State.
According to the livestock census 2019, Assam has a pig population of 21 lakh. Out of these around eight lakh are cross-breed and the rest are local breed.
Even though the official figure of deaths due to ASF varies, sources said several lakhs local pigs have died due to the flu. In Dhemaji district alone around one lakh pigs died till date. However, official figure shows the number around 7,000 pigs in the district.
Doom, an indigenous breed has a population of 4,000 to 4,500 in the State. The population of this breed is largely concentrated in Dhubri district though some of them can be found in Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar districts.
The officials in the Veterinary department said 5,000 of 15,000 pigs that died across Assam were of local breed.
"The adverse impact of ASF on local pigs cannot be negated. Majority of people in villages and remote areas in the State rear local pigs. Only the commercial farms and a section of youths rear the exotic breeds due to their productivity. Nearly 30 lakh people in the State are associated with piggery," a veterinary doctor said.
Veterinarians have, however, heaved a sigh of relief that the ASF has not spread to lower Assam districts.
"But farmers have to maintain strict bio-security protocols as Dooms, the indigenous breed graze in groups in the wild. The Veterinary department earlier moved the Centre for permission of a nucleus farm for breeding of the Doom breed. The proposed nucleus farm is estimated to cost around Rs 1 crore and was proposed to be set up in Dhubri. The project is yet to be cleared," a source said.
Veterinary Minister Atul Bora recently said the situation arising out of ASF in Kaziranga National Park and nearby areas is being closely monitored by the park authorities. "Kaziranga has wild boars and people in nearby areas of the park keep domestic pigs. If both species mix up, the situation might turn risky and ASF would spread very fast," he said. Kaziranga has 15,000 wild boar population.
Bora earlier said ASF might have come from China through Arunachal Pradesh or Myanmar. According to a 2019 census by the Veterinary department, the pig population in the State was 21 lakh which has increased in recent times to around 30 lakh.