Pigs are the most important livestock of the North Eastern Region (NER) of India which has 8% of geographical area and 4% of population of the country but 38.38% of the country’s pig population. One of the biggest challenges facing piggery sector in India especially in NER is ensuring ‘safe pork production’. Most of the pigs are reared by small/ marginal farmers with only few animals and very little inputs in terms of feed and health management. Also, pigs are slaughtered, processed and marketed under unhygienic conditions. Safe pork means meat free from physical, chemical, microbiological and parasitical hazards. Chemical hazards are minimal in NER because of less use of therapeutic drugs, pesticides, growth promoters etc. Challenges to safe pork production in NER are multifarious: varied sources of pigs ranging from locally reared to those moved from across the borders, lack of quick health examination methods both at the level of animal selection at villages/ markets and antemortem (AM) examination, dearth of aids for post mortem (PM) examination of carcasses, non-availability of quick pork borne pathogen detection methods and absence of traceability system for systematic identification & maintenance of livestock records.
To address the issue of developing AM and PM aids it is proposed to develop Infrared (IR) imaging based techniques. Two types of IR interventions are planned, viz, IR thermal measurements and IR spectral imaging. Infrared thermal imaging techniques will help in detecting the general wellbeing of the animals while IR spectral imaging can be used for specific disease identification. At the level of selection of pigs for slaughter and at AM point, IR based techniques will help in examining general well-being, detection of febrile & septicemic diseases, stress level etc while at PM point IRT spectral imaging can help in detection of muscular dystrophies, presence of cysts, worm infestations, enumeration of total viable counts etc. By triangulating IRT images at animal selection level, AM level and PM level informed decision can be taken for acceptance/ rejection of the carcasses. These techniques will help in efficient AM & PM examination even in high throughput abattoirs.
To aid in selection of healthy animals free from parasitic infestation, attempt will be made to develop an IR based technique for detecting parasites, parasitic eggs, blood etc in fecal samples. For detecting meat borne pathogens in carcasses and in slaughter premises a biosensor based on impedance and surface plasma resonance will be developed. Pathogens commonly encountered in pork e.g. Coliforms, Streptococci, Salmonella, Listeria etc will be targeted in the project. Pathogen detection techniques will help in implementation of HACCP protocols.
An online database e-Varaha will be designed for storing and managing traceability information along with Decision Support System based on Correspondence Analysis of Data generated through the novel IT-based tools for monitoring health of slaughter pigs and evaluating microbial quality at Critical Control Points in the abattoir. e-Varaha would be accessible by farmers and other stakeholders through mobiles (cell-phones). After designing of database components, work stations will be established with all four AF partners and pilot scale enrollment (500 pigs/ centre/ year) will be undertaken to validate the system. Traceability backed quality assurance systems.