Pig Farmers Say Illegal Imports Ruin Business
- From: "Chim" <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: 14 Sep 2006 21:30:37 -0700
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Pig Farmers Say Illegal Imports Ruin Business
By Kay Kimsong
THE CAMBODIA DAILY
Tep Phearith, a pig farmer in Kompong Speu province, says he has lost
$20,000 in just the past three months.
"I will close my business soon," he said. "I can't afford to buy hog
The owner of a 200-hog farm in Phnom Sruoch district. Tep Phearith
blames an influx of cheaper, imported pork for the ruin of his
His own carcasses sell for $1.05 per kg whereas imported Vietnamese
swine will sell at 72 cents per kg, he said.
It's a complaint heard often outside Cambodia's pig pens. In the last
three months alone, the market price of pork has plummeted as much 30
percent, due to imported competition that may be illegal, farmers,
importers and an NGO representative said this week.
Agriculture Ministry officials announced last week that 300 pigs and
dozens of cows and water buffalo had died of foot-and-mouth in Prey
Veng province since July.
"It's like an assembly line of pigs coming across the border," said one
NGO worker involved in private sector development who spoke on
condition of anonymity, and described thousands of Vietnamese pigs
crossing the border in trucks and on the backs of motorbikes in Kompong
Cham province every day.
Though small-scale smuggling has been the norm for years, staff at his
NGO interviewed participants at every stage of the supply chain and
found that over the last two to three months, the trade has increased
More than 180 pigs a day are moving through just one point of sale in
Kompong Cham province, he said.
"We've talked to the traders. We've been to the border. We've taken
photos," the NGO worker said, adding, "I would imagine it's a couple of
thousand [hogs] everyday."
It may be due to confusion over the law.
Agricultural officials claim importing pigs is illegal-an assertion
disputed by Cam-control, Cambodia's import-export inspection agency.
The drivers bringing in the pigs appear to have official documents, or
"chbap," allowing them to bypass customs and sanitary controls,
reducing costs and exposing Cambodian livestock to infection, said the
NGO worker, who contends the import is illegal.
An official with the Vietnamese embassy said Wednesday that he was
unfamiliar with the situation.
Thav Kim Long, first deputy governor of Kompong Cham province, said
Wednesday that no such permits had ever been issued and that the
Vietnamese swine imports were contraband.
"All pigs imported from Vietnam are smuggled. This is the principle of
the Ministry of Agriculture," he said.
"The [Agriculture] Ministry has allowed some exports of cows and water
buffaloes to Vietnam but has never allowed importing any pigs," said
Kong Choeurn, director of the Kompong Cham agriculture and fishery
Huot Sambath, administration director of the Agriculture Ministry's
animal health department, said the ministry was vigilant in its efforts
to contain the spread of foot-and-mouth and that pig imports were not
"We don't have any evidence that foot-and-mouth has been imported from
Vietnam," he said.
However Khlauk Chuon, deputy director of Camcontrol, Cambodia's
import-export inspection agency, said that while his agency did not yet
have statistics for the pig trade, it did exist.
"All imported pigs are properly taxed," he said.
"Vietnam appears more aggressive and their product appears more
competitive when compared to local pig farmers," he added.
Whatever the case, Cambodian pig farmers are definitely suffering.
Gauging the size of the Cambodian pork market is difficult, but the NGO
worker estimated that between 2,000 and 5,000 pigs were slaughtered in
Cambodia every day, meaning volume of smuggled imports could sometimes
be equal to half of this.
"We believe it will put people out of business," he added. "It keeps
them out of the market economy and it keeps them at a subsistence level
so they can't earn an income."
Hog farmers across the nation are tearing up their pigpens due to the
glut of cheaper pork flooding in from Vietnam and Thailand.
Sok Mungul, who heads a recently formed collective of about 10 hog
farmers in Koh Kong and Kompong Speu provinces, agreed.
"We've seen the sale price drop sharply because there is too much
imported livestock from Vietnam," he said.
Sok Mungul, who also owns Mungul Farm in Koh Kong's Sre Ambel district,
said that due to the competition his farmers were now selling at $1.04
per kg whereas they had been selling at $1.51 in May and June.
Mei Barang, a slaughterhouse owner in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district,
said she slaughtered several dozen Vietnamese pigs everyday.
"I am very sure no pig with foot-and-mouth was imported from Vietnam,"
she said, adding that her slaughterhouse was often visited by health
"I think if we don't import pigs from Vietnam, we won't be able to
supply the market's demands today," she added.
Mao Thura, an undersecretary of state at the Commerce Ministry, said
that as a member of the World Trade Organization, Cambodia could not
ban the import of pigs.
He suggested that some struggling farmers were perhaps blaming imports
for their own mismanagement.
"I think sometimes business people lose money not because of trade
policy but maybe they lose profit for other reasons." he said.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)
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