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Pig farmers form taskforce to curb illicit smuggling

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A woman purchases pork from a meat vendor yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Pig farmers form taskforce to curb illicit smuggling

Cambodia's pig farmers created a new taskforce yesterday to combat pig smuggling along Cambodia’s borders that is leading to falling prices for domestic producers.

Mong Rethhy, co-chair of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce’s working group on the agricultural industry, gathered the Kingdom’s major pig farmers and firms to establish a taskforce supported by the Ministry of Agriculture. The initiative hopes to strengthen pig import procedures in order to eliminate illegal cross-border swine trade.

With current prices for pork at $1.25 per kilo, which falls below the breakeven point for domestic farmers, Rethhy said yesterday that if smuggling was not curbed, more small pig farmers would leave the industry due to crippling losses in revenue.

“There is a lot of pig smuggling along the border that is impacting the price in the market,” he said. “We need to set up the taskforce in order to ensure our local pig farmers can survive and to make sure that we maintain a good meat quality in the country.”

Rethhy said the initiative will be tasked with monitoring smuggling activity and reporting any incidents of illegal trade to the relevant ministries. He added that the group will publicise the names on Facebook of those found in violation of the law and will also shame government officials supporting illicit activities.

Minister of Agriculture Veng Sokhon called on all meat and animal importers to comply with official procedures and fulfil adequate quality standards in order to continue their imports to Cambodia.

“We know there is a lot of cross-border pig smuggling and we are now trying to restrict illegal imports in order to control the amount of meat entering the market,” he said.

“We want to balance prices in the market and make sure all importers pay taxes to create fair competition.”

Sokhon noted that currently, local producers are able to fulfill 60 to 70 percent of the market demand, requiring imports from Thailand and Vietnam.

Srun Poav, director of the Cambodia Pig Farmer’s Association, said that the pig industry could see growth if the taskforce was successful.

He added that 60 to 70 percent of local pig famers shut down their business because of losses of at least $25 per pig due to smuggling.

“If the taskforce works hard, I believe the issue will be solved,” he said.

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