Cambodia’s promising animal feed sector will soon see support from a big pharmaceutical manufacturer which is now studying local demand for animal healthcare – a nearly untapped market.
“We intend to introduce animal health business in Cambodia for our farm products and feed mills,” Khalid Baig, Bayer’s country group head Southeast Asia, told the Post.
Bayer Animal Health produces nutritional premixes and animal health products for the local animal husbandry industry.
“The Cambodian market [has] good potential in this area,” he said, adding that the company will need to invest in human resources, market research and a distribution network.
According to animal welfare and production expert Ros Limhy, several thousand veterinarians are working in the Kingdom, mostly at the village or commune level. However, the key players in improving animal health in Cambodia would be the Village Animal Health Workers, who have been trained by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the public sector.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is one of those NGOs. According to IFAD’s Country Operations Officer Meng Sakphouseth, 80 per cent of the villages in the Kingdom have at least one animal health worker.
Trained by the Department of Animal Health Production, they provide advice, treatment and vaccination to the farmers.
Sakphouseth agrees with Ros Limhy’s criticism that the workers’ skills are still low.
“There is the problem of credibility, and the problem of skills – that needs to be improved, but the direction is right,” Sakphouseth said.
“The education level of the animal health workers is low. They need to have refresher training all the time and also the revenue from [their work] is not substantial,” he explained, adding that training is only available if there is government funding.
However, Sakpouseth sees a huge potential in the animal production sector in Cambodia. “Nobody has tried to develop that yet. Also, Cambodia is a corridor, a place where there is a lot of demand from Thailand and Vietnam, especially for cattle.”
Commercial manufacturers add antibiotics to prevent diarrhea or coughs, minerals and vitamins, and growth promoting substances to the feed.
“Feed is the most important to improve animal performance and growth,” explained Ros Limhy.
“Commercial feed becomes more popular for farmers,” Limhy said, adding that the added chemicals are imported from Thailand and Vietnam, but also from Europe.
“There are a lot of illegal imports from Vietnam every day with low price and low quality,” Limhy said. “In rural areas it is not easy to buy medicine [for animals]. Some companies have products sold only in a few provinces.”
CP (Cambodia) Marketing Manager Vannara Roeung said his company will import pharmaceuticals from Thailand and train its Cambodian staff with Thai vets.
“We have 33 employees that take care of the customers and explain to them how to vaccinate and what medicines to use,” he said.