Why did a quarter of the world's pigs die in a year?

Swine fever devastated China's stock because with unsound governance, even sound regulations have perverse effects

On a recent visit to my home town by the Yangtze River in eastern China, relatives welcomed me, as ever, with a feast: steamed perch and hairy crab, deep-fried river shrimp - and braised pork. My 84-year-old father made sure to serve pork, even though it was now twice as expensive as it had been the year before.

This time, he didn't get the meat from my brother, who until late last year had been the village's largest pork producer: All 150 pigs on my brother's farm had either died or been culled because of African swine fever.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'Why did a quarter of the world's pigs die in a year?'. Print Edition | Subscribe