SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China's large pig farms are lining up with small, family-based farms in a state-initiated investment of nearly 50 billion yuan ($7 billion) to boost hog productions hit hard by a deadly swine disease, the agriculture ministry said.
Fifteen leading pig farms in Beijing on Thursday signed 19 agreements with local governments in 16 Chinese cities such as Liangzhou of western Sichuan province and Engshi in central Hubei, to raise pigs together, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said.
These projects are expected to produce more than 22 million hogs for slaughter annually and involve 33,000 poor rural families, the ministry said, without giving a timeline.
Big farmers are encouraged to take a stake in or lease medium and small farms, and should expedite executing these agreements by building a number of standardized household-based farms, slaughter houses and refrigerating centres, the agricultural minister Han Changfu was cited as saying.
China's pig herd is about 40% smaller than a year ago, after deadly African swine fever swept through the country in the year following its discovery in mid-2018, the ministry has said.
China - the world's biggest producer and consumer or pork - still relies heavily on small farms, with nearly 50% of its pork supply coming from farms that produce less than 500 pigs a year.
($1 = 6.9992 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu; editing by Jason Neely)