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Pig production priority

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Pig carcasses hang at a butcher’s shop in Tuol Svay Prey 1 commune, in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district, earlier this year.

Thailand's reported move to ban exports of live pigs highlights the need to develop a larger Cambodian pig industry,  insiders say.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Thailand’s Acting Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai had banned the exports in order to bring down its own prices, but experts say Cambodia is dependant on Thai pig imports to meet domestic demand.

Cambodia Pig Farmers Association Chairman Srun Pov said that Cambodia now imports more than 1,000 pigs per day from Thailand, though added he was unaware of the ban.

“If Thailand bans exporting pigs, we will face a supply shortage, pushing prices up,” he said. “This will be a good sign for local producers, who will increase production.”

Cambodia was at least two years away from producing enough pigs to meet the country’s requirements. Local producers currently produce about 2,000 pigs a day, though actual demand is closer to 4,000 animals, said Srun Pov.

Banteay Meancheay province Camcontrol Director Uth Sophea said he has seen a steady decrease in pig imports from Thailand in recent weeks, pushing up pork prices.

“Thailand has continuously reduced their [pig] exports,” he said. “They are currently exporting about 200 to 300 pigs per day [through the province], were it is usually 600.”

Thailand faces a domestic shortage of pork, said Cambodian businessman Mong Reththy. “The current political issues in Thailand also cause barriers for Thailand’s pig investors. They afraid to spend more money to increase production – they don’t want it to get lost,” he said.

Mong Reththy currently operates a pig farm that can produce 3,000 to 4,000 pigs per months, which largely supplies Preah Sihanouk province.

“Ï think we are 60 percent relying on imports to supply Cambodia. And we mainly import from Thailand.”

However, he downplayed concerns that Cambodia could face a shortage, saying people could turn to substitutes such as fish if prices rise. “It is a good time to prove that people can raise pigs themselves, and that we don’t have to rely on imports,” he said.

Ministry of Commerce Deputy Cabinet Chief Kong Putheara said the ministry has not received an official letter from Thailand on the ban, though the notification would be required under World Trade
Organisation guidelines. “If they want to ban or suspend exports to member states, they have to confirm the details,” he said. “If they proceed without notification, it could cause a large impact on prices.” 
Thai trade officials in Phnom Penh could not confirm the ban yesterday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JEREMY MULLINS

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