The Ministry of Economy and Finance has asked its agriculture counterpart to establish a comprehensive system of rules and procedures for auctions of live pigs to be imported into the Kingdom, to maintain market price stability at a reasonable level during shortages of domestic hogs.

The request came in a February 8 letter, in an apparent rejection of an appeal made by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to suspend auctions of live pig imports.

The finance ministry affirmed that the system would be based on in-depth studies conducted by a working group of the General Secretariat of the Committee on Political, Economic and Financial Affairs, in consultation with private companies engaged in the import of pigs.

It also dismissed a comment it said the agriculture ministry made in an earlier letter, apparently claiming that the system would hinge on proposals put forward by four live pig importers.

It underlined that the auctions would be organised exclusively in urgent situations, and only when domestic hogs are in short supply, so as not to undermine the interests of local pig farmers.

It also pointed out that the price of pork rose from 25,000 riel to 26,000 riel ($6.14 to $6.39) per kg over 2021, which it said could jeopardise the livelihoods of locals.

Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon told The Post on February 10 that Cambodia can fulfil 100 per cent of its demand for pigs, and that there is no need for the auction system proposed by the finance ministry.

In response to the finance ministry’s comment on potential shortages in domestic hogs, Sakhon said that the agriculture ministry has observed that the Cambodia Livestock Raisers Association (CLRA) is able to ensure ample supply of pigs in the market without relying on imports.

“Domestic pig rearing now doesn’t just supply enough to meet demand, but we also plan to export in the future – we’re in negotiations with China to ship there in due course,” he said.

He added that Covid era price hikes were not exclusive to pork, with rates for other commodities rising on the back of higher production costs such as fuel and transportation expenses.

CLRA president Srun Pov told The Post that imports of pigs from neighbouring countries have been suspended for more than four months, which he said was because the association is sufficiently able to fulfil domestic demand.

“The price of live pigs has not changed, hovering in the 11,000-12,000 riel range per kg, which is just enough [for raisers] to break even.

“As for supply, there are no shortages – even if we suspend imports. We have the capacity to remain self-sufficient,” he said.

According to the CLRA president, the current demand for pork in Cambodia amounts to about 8,000-9,000 hogs per day.