Domestic pork prices will remain stable before the arrival of Ghost Festival, which falls on Aug. 12 this year, because of the abundance of imported pork from the US, according to the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday.
In recent weeks, domestic pork prices have risen by 36 percent because of deaths of a number of hogs infected with circovirus type II (環狀病毒) in central Taiwan.
According to COA tallies, the average local price of pork was about NT$5,917 per 100kg between July 1 and July 24, up 36 percent from the year-earlier level at NT$4,342.
Agricultural officials said yesterday that farmers would be demanded to carry out disinfection measures thoroughly in these days.
In addition, officials said that pork prices would be adjusted by the availability of imported pork.
"In late July and early August, pork prices here will be lowered by the arrival of imported pork from the US," said Chen Hsing-hao (陳幸浩), director of the COA's Animal Industry Department.
Chen said his forecast is partly based on the fact that pork prices in the US have declined by 11 percent since the beginning of this month.
Chen estimated that the drop would encourage local dealers to import more US pork to help meet the increasing demand and thus stabilize local prices.
Between June and early July, US pork prices also remained high at around US$1 per kilogram due to shrinking supplies. But the trend has reversed itself in recent days, with the price dropping to about US$0.88 per kilo.
Chen said the upward spiral will be brought under control by the time of the Ghost Festival -- the 15th day of the seventh moon on the lunar calendar -- when great feasts are set out in temples and in front of homes to appease wandering spirits.
Chiang Yi-nan (江益男), director of the COA's Animals and Plants Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, said yesterday that circovirus infection per se is not deadly to hogs. However, he said, infected hogs will lose weight and suffer from shortness of breath or have breathing difficulties.
COA officials urged farmers to carry out disinfection and precautionary measures to protect healthy hogs.
Officials said that infected hogs should be quarantined properly and abnormal deaths should be reported immediately.
The circovirus infection is not a statutory communicable disease, Chiang said, adding that no vaccines are available at the moment.
Scientists at National Chung Hsing University and other research institutions are still working on developing vaccines.
The virus is also unlikely to infect humans, Chiang said.