As many as 24,474 houses have been severely damaged or destroyed and more that 1.31 million people have been evacuated to safer areas. A total of 69 people have lost their lives and 5 are still missing.
Damage was also caused to 972,000 hectares of farmland. More than 1 million animals have drowned alive… And the drinking water system has been contaminated… There is no food and no water anymore for millions of people…
“I’m waiting for the water levels to go down to see what to do with the remaining pigs,” said the 47-year-old farmer from Wangfan village, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of provincial capital Zhengzhou.
“They’ve been in the water for a few days now and can’t eat at all. I don’t think even one pig will be left.”
Cheng’s farm is one of thousands in Henan, famous for agriculture, and pork production in particular. The province was struck by heavy rains last week that sparked the worst flash flooding in centuries, catching many by surprise.
“In an instant, we now have no way of surviving. We have no other skills. We have no more money to raise pigs again,” Cheng, who has raised pigs all his life, told Reuters at his farm on Sunday.
More than 1 million animals dead
Across the village, where most of the 3,000 other residents also raise pigs or chickens or grow grain, people were clearing debris left by the receding floodwaters.
Some carted out wheelbarrows and crates of lifeless chickens. Dead pigs lay bloated in the water, tied to trees to stop them floating away. Parts of the village smelled strongly of mud and rotting carcasses.
Though Chinese pig production has become increasingly intensive in recent years, millions of small farmers still play a major role in producing the country’s favorite meat.
Even after a devastating epidemic of the deadly pig disease African swine fever swept the country during 2018 and 2019, many farmers returned to pig raising and expanded their herds to capitalize on high prices.
Last summer, heavy rain and flooding across southern China was blamed for dozens of outbreaks of African swine fever, a disease that usually kills pigs though is not harmful to people.
“The disease issue is a much more severe issue than the direct losses,” said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.
The swine fever virus lives for about 10 days in pig feces and water, and can survive for up to 100 days in manure pits.
“Whatever’s in the manure pits will be washed out and spread around,” said Wayne Johnson, a veterinarian and consultant at Beijing-based Enable Ag-Tech Consulting.
Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs issued guidelines to local governments on how to prevent animal disease after flooding, including measures on disposal of carcasses and disinfection of farms.
For now though, Wangfan farmers are not even sure they’ll return to farming.
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