Suspected African Swine Fever Outbreak Triggers Decline in Pork Sales

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A section of pork dealers in Kitgum Municipality is puzzled over a sharp decline in sales of pork following an outbreak of suspected African Swine Fever-ASF disease in the district.

More than 600 pigs have reportedly died from the strange disease in the villages of Bajere, Bajere East, Oget, and Okwici in Labongo Akwang Sub-county since November last year.

Although no laboratory diagnosis has been issued to confirm ASF, veterinary officials in the district reveal that clinical signs on most of the affected pigs that died match African swine fever. 

People dealing in Pork say the outbreak of the disease has frightened away customers, leaving them counting heavy losses.

Francis Odong, who sells pork in West Land in Central Division, says that his business has been hit hard owing to few customers currently demanding pork.

Odong boasts of selling between 40-50 kilograms of pork daily in the past before the outbreak of the disease. However, for the last two months, Odong says he has been struggling to clear stock of only 20 kilograms of pork a day.

He notes that at some points, he has been forced to reduce the prices of pork to his customers. A kilogram of pork within Kitgum Municipality cost 10,000 Shillings. 

A pork dealer in Central Division, Kitgum Municipality weighs pork for sale on Tuesday.

“…In the past I would sell between 40-50 kilograms of pork a day, but ever since the outbreak of the disease, we sell barely 20 kilograms. Some customers are now keen on studying the skin of the pork to differentiate between an infected and a healthy one. This has affected our business, to convince them to buy pork sometimes I reduce the price for them..,”

Nighty Amony, another pork dealer also in West Land Cell in Central Division reiterates that sales and demand for pork have recently dropped due to a suspected African swine fever outbreak.

Amony says on good days before the disease outbreak, she would at least 25 kilograms of pork to customers. She however notes that the trend has shifted adding that she now barely finishes 10 kilograms daily.

Jimmy Okema, who also deals in sales of live pigs within Kitgum Municipality, says some of the farmers have taken advantage of the disease to sell infected animals to them costing them huge financial losses.

He notes that he lost 440,000 Shillings at one point after two pigs he had bought from a farmer died mysteriously. Okema suspects that the pigs were already infected by the strange disease.

David Okot, the Vice-Chairperson Central Division Pork Joint Association, that brings together seven pork dealers however persuaded clients not to shun their business since they are selling healthy pork.

He notes that they have always been liaising with the veterinary officials in the Municipality who inspect their pork for their health status every morning before sales commence.

Patrick Okidi, a pork consumer and resident of Central Division told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that he shunned eating pork after the outbreak of the disease that killed several pigs in the district were reported.

Okidi says he is sceptical that the disease may be infectious to human beings since it’s a virus.

Veterinary officials in the district however say the viral disease is not known to cause any infection in human beings. Pig farmers are however advised to slaughter the infected animals and burn or bury their caucus to avoid spread to other herds.

Dr Alfred Kinyera, Kitgum District Veterinary Officer in an earlier interview with URN says the veterinary department had attempted to take sample tissues from dead pigs but failed since the infected pigs were either sold off alive or dead. 

African swine fever is a highly contagious haemorrhagic disease of domestic and wild pigs. It is characterized by high fever, loss of appetite, haemorrhages in the skin and internal organs, and kills pigs in 2-10 days on average.

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