Taiwan has been removed from list of foot-and-mouth disease zones after 24 years of effort. The Council of Agriculture is optimistic about the export market at Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore. Meanwhile, selling to Japan and the United States will be still a long way to go as Taiwan remains a classical swine fever epidemic area.
The Council of Agriculture set off firecrackers on June 17 to celebrate the eradication of foot and mouth disease. Farmers and residents have been waiting to celebrate this for 24 years.
I'm a little distracted today, because my phone hasn't stop ringing since eight yesterday. I couldn't sleep the entire night. We spent a full four years on this, starting with the measure to end vaccination.
The so-called ending vaccinations refers to ending the administering of foot and mouth disease vaccines on July 1, 2018. That means that all the hogs are healthy now. We completed this task that seemed impossible 24 years ago. I think Deputy Minister Huang wasn't the only one who wasn't able to sleep last night. I bet many Taiwan farmers couldn't sleep either.
The World Organisation for Animal Health has now recognized Taiwan as a "FMD-free country where vaccination is not practiced." It took a lot of work to reach this point. On March 19, 1997, the first case of FMD was confirmed in Taiwan, and fresh pork exports were banned. In 2003, Taiwan marked two years without any new cases, but in 2009, the plan to end vaccinations failed. New efforts to eradicate the disease were launched in 2016. This time, it took years to achieve the goal of eliminating the disease from the Taiwan, Penghu, and Matsu region. On June 16, OIE members officially voted to remove Taiwan from the list of FMD countries.
We're very optimistic about exports, because our pork is different from American or Canadian pork. We aim to develop the markets in Singapore, Hong Kong, or Macau, including those for processed pork or fresh pork.
Taiwan's pork is relatively expensive, with a wholesale price of NT$61 to NT$63 per kilogram, compared to NT$50 for U.S. pork. China is currently dealing with African swine fever and COVID-19, and the COA believes it can develop markets in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau, which have large Chinese populations.
However, Taiwan remains a classical swine fever epidemic area. The COA says Japan and the U.S. have more stringent regulations than Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau, so Taiwan won't be able to export to those countries until it has eradicated swine fever. This will be the next big challenge.