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Checkpoints Initiated in Northern Thailand to Thwart African Swine Flu

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“Charoen Pokphand Foods, has joined with rivals Betagro and Thai Food to raise funds for 50 government-manned checkpoints along Thailand’s northern borders to protect against the feared African Swine Flu”

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Thailand’s pork industry has started to take policing into its own hand over African Swine Flu. Three of Thailand’s biggest pork companies are teaming up with the government forces to police the country’s borders. In a desperate effort to protect the Nations pork industry from the African Swine Flu from bordering Myanmar.

Charoen Pokphand Foods, has joined with rivals Betagro and Thai Food to raise funds for 50 government-manned checkpoints along northern borders. The three companies together account for as much of 80% of Thai pork production. The unusual private-public initiative is in part due to the lack of available state funds.

The checkpoints will be manned by authorities from Thailand’s Agriculture Ministry, Interior Ministry and the Royal Thai Army. Surachai Sutthitham, president of Swine Raisers Association of Thailand told the Nikkei that the checkpoints will be equipped with antiseptic sprays to douse down all trucks that carry livestock including cattle, poultry and all feed before they can enter Thailand.

Agriculture Ministry Must Make Official Statements

The three companies declined to give further details on how much they have jointly invested in securing the the northern borders. Saying it is a sensitive issue that should be released by the government. The Agriculture Ministry has not made any official statements.

“It is a progressive reaction from those private firms that realized that they need to do something very fast and carefully to protect themselves as well as to protect the reputation of the country as a world food exporter,” said Livestock Development Department Director General Sorawit Thanito.

Thailand has been in tenterhooks since the outbreak of African Swine Fever in neighboring countries a year ago. This fear intensified in September. Dead pigs were found drifting along the Ruak river at the border of Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province and Myanmar. The World Organization for Animal Heath declared Myanmar as being infected with the disease in August.

Pigs Culled in Chiang Rai Over African Swine Flu Fears

More than 200 pigs have already culled in three districts in Chiang Rai province over fears of African swine flu contamination.  Thailand has banned all pork products from neighboring Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar  from entering its country.

The Thai government is meeting in early October to discuss ways to contain the disease and prevent it from spreading to Northern Thailand.

Although 80% of Thai pigs are raised in tightly controlled farms by the three companies. There are still nearly 200,000 small farmers that need to be closely monitored the Ministry of Agriculture said.

As part of the new initiative, all pigs within 5 km of infected ones will be killed. The pig farmers will be given compensation of 70% of the market price. This compensation will come from funds raised by the three companies.

If only one small farm was infected, it could destroy all of the pork supply chain. The infection could lead to a domino-collapse of the Thai food industry.

Thailand is the biggest pork supplier for the Mekong region.

Thai pork is also in demand in China, where many pigs have been slaughtered after contracting African Swine Fever. Thai pork exports to Hong Kong surged more than 60% to 985 tons in the first half of this year. The Swine Raisers’ Association of Thailand forecast that pork exports to Hong Kong could reach 2,500 tons this year.

Thailand produces 1.5-1.7 million tons of pork annually from 20-23 million pigs.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review