Agartala/Aizawl: Piglets imported from the UK by the National Livestock Mission (NLM) for the northeastern states, have been kept in quarantine in Delhi as highly infectious African Swine Fever (ASF) caused the deaths of hundreds of pigs in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, officials said on Thursday.
According to officials in Agartala and Aizawl, the NLM had imported 262 high-quality piglets from the United Kingdom, but these piglets had to be kept in quarantine in Delhi as the ASF caused deaths of hundreds of pigs in six districts of Assam and nine districts in Arunachal Pradesh.
Tripura's Animal Resources Development Department (ARDD) Director Dilip Chakma said these 262 high-quality piglets were supposed to be distributed in five northeastern states -- Tripura, Nizoram, Meghalatya, Manipur and Nagaland.
"Assam and Arunachal Pradesh had no pig breeding policy when the initiative to import the piglets from the UK was undertaken by the NLM. Later, both the states framed the pig breeding policy," Chakma said.
He said that due to the outbreak of ASF in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the NLM kept the piglets in quarantine at the Animal Quarantine and Certification Service center at Kapashera in southwest Delhi since the piglets were imported from UK in February.
Chakma, who is also the Additional Secretary of the ARDD, said the NLM (similar to National Health Mission), would bear the entire expenditure to import the piglets from UK and to distribute them to the northeastern states. He said that the Mizoram Government's Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Department (AHVSD) is the nodal agency of this scheme.
An official of the AHVSD said the pure breed large white Yorkshire and pure breed Landrace pigs of UK are of very high quality compared to the local breed in many respects. Pork is one of the most common and popular meats consumed by both tribals and non-tribals in the northeastern states.
Due to the ASF, hundreds of pigs' deaths were reported from the Dhemaji, North Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar and Jorhat districts of Assam and in West Kameng, Papum-pare, Lower Siang, Upper Siang, East Siang, Lohit, Lepa-Rada, Namsai, Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Because of the outbreak of ASF in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, all the state governments in the northeast have sounded a high alert and asked people, especially owners of piggeries, to refrain from bringing pigs from other states.
Animal resource experts in northeast India suspect that the highly contagious ASF came to the region from Tibet in China through Arunachal Pradesh. Assam Agriculture and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora confirmed the deaths of over 2,260 pigs in his state's six districts due to suspected ASF, with authorities waiting for confirmatory reports from the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal.
Bora said in Guwaahti: "The pigs are dying due to a foreign virus and we guess that it may have come from Tibet in China. Reports of pigs' deaths in Arunachal Pradesh were reported in the first week of April. Many villagers in the state threw the carcasses of dead pigs into rivers which flow down to Assam, causing pig deaths in Dhemaji district which borders Arunachal Pradesh."
Bora said that normally this is a period of swine flu among pigs in Assam. "We have vaccinated animals against Classical Swine Fever (CSF) disease."
According to the animal resource experts, the pigs generally are affected by the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) besides the ASF and CSF.