Major floods put pressure on pork prices to rise

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 July, 2007, 12:00am

Major floods in central regions have not only killed dozens of people, forced millions from their homes and cost billions of yuan in damage, they also have kept pork prices inflated, a top official from the Ministry of Commerce said.

Assistant Minister for Commerce Huang Hai said that severe flooding had disrupted road networks linking pig farms to markets, driving up the cost, Xinhua reported.

The price of fresh boneless pork rose 12.3 per cent last month to 19.56 yuan per kg, according to a survey by the National Development and Reform Commission.

Pork prices in many cities have continued to climb in recent days, Xinhua added.

Mr Huang said the main reason for the inflated prices was a shortage in supply, and he expected prices to go down again within the next six months. He said it would take that long because it took at least six months for baby pigs to mature.

According to the survey, the stock of live pigs in the country in May had fallen to a level 20 per cent lower than stocks from the same time last year. It said farmers were less willing to breed pigs because pork prices had fallen sharply last year.

Mr Huang added that an outbreak of blue ear disease, which affects pigs, and the rising cost of grain used to feed the animals had also helped to lower stocks.

The Ministry of Agriculture said yesterday it was tightening measures to control the disease, which had infected more than 143,000 pigs in 302 counties, according to the China News Service. About 39,000 pigs have died from the disease.

The ministry said the epidemic was most serious in regions along the Yangtze River and warned it would worsen if high temperatures and heavy rains continued.

Zuo Zhengying, a housewife in Shanghai, said her pork bill had risen 70 per cent since the floods.

'My salary does not rise, but my budget for food gets used up much more quickly now,' Mrs Zuo said.

The death toll from the floods this summer - the worst the country has seen in decades - has hit 112 in Sichuan , Chongqing and Anhui . About 10 people also died from the storms in Hubei and Henan , Xinhua cited the Ministry of Civil Affairs as saying.The storms have cost 13 billion yuan in economic losses in these five regions, reports say.

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