By Olamide Tejuoso
Despite the high demand for meat in China, the world-most populous country and largest meat consumer; the Asian country is experiencing a fall in price of pork, as there is excess supply of pork due to the prevailing government policy and the aftermath of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
At a time when its food security was threatened because of external ties and uncertainties, President Xi Jinping hammered on agricultural self-reliance, to ensure stable grain and meat supply, as well as maintain deflated prices. For now, China had earned the title of the largest pork producing and consuming nation in the world.
China has upped its game in pig farming (hog farming) by dedicating a 26-floor edifice to the raising of pigs through vertical farming – the world’s biggest swine tower. This is just one out of many of them in China. In crop farming, vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. This is now the case, on the outskirts of Ezhou, a city on the southern bank of the Yangtze River.
The skyscraper is now being hailed as the world’s biggest free-standing pig farm, prospecting over a million pigs for production annually. The 26-storey building was constructed by Hubei Zhongxin Kaiwei modern husbandry in October 2022, has each floor operating like a self-contained farm for the different stages of a young pig’s life – even from insemination to maturity. There are separate areas for pregnant pigs, rooms for farrowing piglets, spots for nursing and spaces for fattening the hogs.
It also contains 30,000 feeding points and six giant elevators capable of carrying 240 pigs at a time. This could have only been possible because China issued a decree in 2019 asking all government departments to support the pork industry, and resolved to adopt vertical, multi-storey pig farming.
Traditionally, pork is important to the Chinese, as the meat is often served during special occasions and festivities as the Asian country consumes half the world’s pig meat. Hence, pig is said to be one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac for those born in that year are said to be diligent, sympathetic and generous. In times past, China suffered because it only relied on subsistence farming; which involved total reliance on backyard farming and imports. In China, pigs have long been considered a valuable livestock and source of meat and manure, despite their agricultural land getting scarce.
According to a report, Chinese eat so much pork that when its price goes up, the cost of other things rises, too. Although United States experts have condemned the development of skyscraper pig farming, saying it is too risky as pig are not supposed to be raised that way, few others have submitted that multi-storey pig farms (Schweinehochhaus) had reported been in Germany in the 1970s, although not at the same scale as those presently found in China. It was also around that time the Chinese government liberalised pig farming, which consequently increased pork consumption to nearly sevenfold.
Beyond its production of meat, the highest tower in China ensures every part of the slaughtered animal is put to good use. For instance; pig feaces are measured, collected and repurposed, especially as methane to generate electricity even though there are continuous concerns for disease and fire outbreaks, just as Prof. Zhu Zengyong of the Institute of Animal Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has submitted that the move of building large farms for pigs, secures a highly automatic and intelligent future for livestock farming in the country.