September 16, 2003



Backyard Pig Farming Changing in China


On the outskirts of the southern Shandong city of Linyi, one of China's most sacred village traditions - pig farming - is changing.

Linyi is home to eight enormous pig farms and pork processing plants, farm-factories that are part of China's quest to modernize, consolidate and industrialize rural agriculture.

Pig farming, a time-honored tradition, has roots dating back more than 5,000 years. About 70 per cent of rural Chinese raise pigs, mostly by "backyard farming" methods, raising about five animals a year to supplement their income from root crops.

However, the tradition is changing and backyard farming is slowly declining. In the mid-1980s, backyard farming accounted for 95 per cent of all pigs produced. Currently, it is about 80 per cent and industry analysts predict that within 30 years the backyard pig will be a thing of the past.

Its replacement - massive farms that not only raise thousands of pigs, but also feature a complete one-stop-shop of meat processing where the pigs are slaughtered, processed and packaged into consumer products such as canned ham and sausages.

The main factor driving the development of pig farming is China's love of pork. China is the world's largest consumer of pig meat.

The US Department of Agriculture estimated that in 2001 China consumed more than 40 million tons, or 31kg per person a year.



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