The commercial pig farmers of Assam, who have lost a large number of pigs due to ASF, feared that they would not get compensation, which was assured by the government recently.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal ordered culling of nearly 12,000 pigs in the areas affected by the deadly African swine fever (ASF) and asked officials to compensate the owners adequately.

Interestingly, farmers of Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Sivasagar and other districts said even though pigs in their farms showed symptoms of African swine fever (ASF), their samples tested negative for the disease.

As per the State Veterinary department, farmers will be compensated on the basis of culling of ASF affected pigs.

Bidarbha Rajkhowa, a progressive pig farmer, owns a commercial farm spread across 1 bigha of land at Kadam in Lakhimpur.

He had 305 exotic pure breed Duroc pigs.

Now, he has been left with 25 piglets after ASF took toll on the pig population claiming more than 280 pigs.

Rajkhowa claimed he incurred a loss of around Rs. 50 lakh.

“I am not sure of being compensated. As far as I know the Centre has allocated 50% of share of the compensation but the state government is yet to release anything as a result of which the culling is delayed,” Rajkhowa said.

“I had also taken advance payments from clients for delivery. Now, I have to manage refunding of the money,” he added.

The Centre and state government pay 50% each as compensation for the culling,   the commissioner and secretary to the state animal husbandry and veterinary department, S Jagannathan had said.

Farmers are of the view that the government figure of 18,000 deaths of pigs due to ASF was misleading.

Moreover, they were shocked to know about 12,000 pigs to be culled as per government data.

While chief minister Sonowal ordered culling of 12,000 pigs almost 18,000 pigs died from May due to ASF, according to the state veterinary department,.

“The data is misleading. Currently, there are not even 1,200 affected pigs in the more than 30 epicentres that the government has notified, let alone 12,000,” Rajkhowa said.

Another farmer, Pranab Jyoti Phukan’s Jyoti Farm at Moridhol in Dhemaji witnessed total wipeout of pig population.

He has lost 106 piglets, 46 pigs weighing 20 kg to 60 kg and 57 pigs weighing above 60 kg which died after showing symptoms of ASF.

Phukan too was not sure of receiving compensation from the government as the samples taken from his farm tested negative for ASF.

“The data is compiled according to the district veterinary officials’ information,” a higher official of the state animal husbandry and veterinary department said.

ASF-affected pigs suffer from high fever of 104 to 108 degree Fahrenheit.

Among other symptoms, they also suffer from loss of appetite, depression, vomiting and diarrhoea with bloody discharge.

They become lethargic and sometimes refuse to stand.

According to study, ASF resembles Classical swine fever so closely that laboratory tests are required to differentiate them.  The clinical signs and post-mortem lesions of the two diseases are almost indistinguishable.