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Ban on pigs causes concern

THE head of the Cambodian Pig Raisers Association said yesterday that he welcomed the ban on imports from Thailand and Vietnam, but worried about the possibility of a domestic price increase.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the ban during a speech yesterday, citing an outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or blue-ear.

CPRA head Srun Pov said yesterday that a recent outbreak of blue-ear and other diseases had affected as many as 70 percent of domestic pigs.

“In the past half month, local pigs were infected by diseases from pigs imported from Vietnam, causing 70 percent of local pigs to fall ill or die,” he said.

He said the outbreak had caused the price per kilogramme of pig to fall from about 9,000 riels (US$2.10) to 7,000 riels, but that it would likely go up in response to the importation ban. Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned pig vendors against raising prices in an attempt to profit from the ban.

“Pork prices can increase a little bit if there is ban from government,” Srun Pov said, “but we will prevent pig raisers from increasing their prices. What I am worried about is the pig dealers who always profit from farmers.”

Meanwhile, during a meeting yesterday called to address the outbreak, Kao Phal, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s Department of Animal Health and Production, conceded that it would be almost impossible to completely halt the illegal importation of pigs.

“Small pig imports still exist – one or two pigs imported [by] motorbikes every day and night,” he said.

“We have to crack down, but it’s very difficult.”

He said that crackdowns carried out since January had thwarted 102 attempts at smuggling pigs across the border from Vietnam.

Phirum Chet, team leader for USAID’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise agency who attended the meeting, said it was crucial that the government take action to prevent the future importation of diseased pigs.

“Right now, the production has been mostly destroyed, and we need to re-raise again,” he said.

“And maybe we will have a lack of pigs supplied to the market.”

Phirum Chet called for the ban to last at least eight months, but Srun Pov worried that the domestic supply might not meet demand for that long.

“I plan to request that the government allow the importation of around 9,000 specific kinds of pigs from Thailand in August,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

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