Dying of livestock due to suspected African swine fever (ASF) or an unknown animal disease has been reported from different parts of Manipur, including Tamenglong, Kamjong and Ukhrul districts recently. While addressing the issue may take time, the outbreak of animal disease among pigs has rendered several people living in the hill districts with huge loss of earnings and livelihood source.
Sinakeithei village in Ukhrul district reported the death of over 100 pigs due to an unknown animal disease, while scores are in critical condition. Nearly 100 pigs in one of the piggery farms located at Grihang village in Kamjong district had also fallen to African swine fever as told to the Imphal Free Press by the veterinary and animal husbandry department, Kamjong district.
Following reports of the disease outbreak published in the Imphal Free Press earlier, a team of Veterinary department Ukhrul visited Sinakeithei village on June 3 to take stock of the situation, and had collected sample of the carcasses.
Earlier, an official of the veterinary and animal husbandry department, Kamjong district had told the Imphal Free Press that human visitors to the district could be the source of the highly contagious African swine fever outbreak among pigs in Kamjong district.
While further investigation and intervention of the government is awaited to address the issue and ease the plight of the villagers, the Imphal Free Press spoke to some villagers of Sinakeithei carrying out piggery farming as their main source of livelihood.
One Ningthinglui Valui, a resident of Sinakeithei village, said that her four matured pigs died of an unknown disease. The disease stricken pigs initially showed bodily weaknesses and loss of appetite.
“Rearing of pigs is my main source of income. For a poor widow like me, the loss I have incurred is huge. I am staring at a bleak future and my children’s education is at stake,” she said.
As many as 100 pigs have fallen victim of the unknown disease, and the spread of the disease is on rise as several pigs are still in critical condition, Valui said.
She appealed to the state government to look into the matter and provide assistance in the wake of the heavy loss incurred by the farmers.
One Risen Longvah, who is also a resident of Sinakeithei village said that he had lost two of his matured pigs this month.
Longvah urged the Veterinary department to initiate necessary preventive measures from time to time and not conduct inspection only when casualties were reported among the livestock.
Longvah also appealed to the state government to look into the poor functioning of veterinary staff stationed in the village. He reiterated the urgent need to revamp the functioning of the veterinary department in the village. Ensuring adequate vaccination and awareness on livestock has been neglected for long, he added.
“If the required vaccines, necessary training and awareness on prevention of animal diseases are made available to the farmers, casualties would have been prevented and no animal farmers would have suffered,” he maintained.
The Manipur Progressive Piggery Farmers’ Association had also raised several questions regarding measures taken by the authorities concerned to prevent the spread of the infection and illegal livestock trade. Association general secretary Khundrakpam Malemnganba had also expressed concerns over whether the outbreak was linked with illegal trade of pig and pork products being reportedly carried out with neighbouring Myanmar.
Malemngaba drew the attention of the government and authorities concerned to closely monitor and ensure that the infected animals are not sold as meat to prevent further spread of the infection. He also urged the government to provide compensation to the farmers duly by culling the infected animals and disposing them of by following protocols without further delay.
These measures will be the most effective way to deal with the outbreak for the time being, he stated, adding that failure to do so will only prove to be more disastrous. The government should be proactive in spreading awareness and fill in where farmers’ associations are not able to raise awareness, he suggested.