Radio signal combats drone swine fever infestation attempt


One of China’s biggest animal feed producers used a radio transmitter to combat crooks using drones to drop pork products contaminated with African swine fever on its pig farms, part of a racket to profit from the health scare.

In July, China’s agriculture ministry said criminal gangs were faking outbreaks of swine fever on farms and forcing farmers to sell healthy pigs at lower prices.

Last Thursday, a state-backed news website, The Paper, reported a pig farming unit of Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co Ltd had run foul of the regional aviation authority, as its transmitter disrupted the GPS signal in the area.

Answering questions from investors on an interactive platform run by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, Dabeinong confirmed its pig farming unit in Heilongjiang province unwittingly violated civil aviation rules.

“Our unit in Heilongjiang province… to prevent external people using drones to drop pork with African swine fever virus, violated regulations by using a drone control equipment set,” the company said.

“We broke related radio regulations, although that was unintentional,” said Dabeinong, adding it surrendered the equipment to authorities and was willing to accept a penalty.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a notice calling for a crackdown on illegal manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, saying it can only be used by public security departments, national security agencies and radio regulators.

Dabeinong has 14 000 sows at its three farms and a breeding farm in Heilongjiang. The farms in Heilongjiang were operating safely and security would be stepped up.

China, the world’s top producer and consumer of pork, has seen its pig herd shrink by 40% compared with a year ago, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said. Rising pork prices were a factor behind inflation’s acceleration to its fastest pace in almost eight years in November.