While the government has encouraged companies and farmers to increase domestic production, industry insiders say pig farming will only speed up if the financial sector increases lending to the sector.

As governments impose more restrictions on cross-border trade in response to Covid-19’s continued spread across the world, strengthening domestic production capacity has become a government priority, especially of food-related products.

M’s Pig ACMC (Cambodia) Co Ltd general manager Ly Laville told The Post on Monday that the rise in prices and market demand has prompted the company to consider raising more pigs. “The company is looking at the potential to expand, but it will not be fast.”

Financial institutions have identified pig farming as a high-risk business in the wake of last year’s African Swine Fever epidemic, he said. With a lack of support, operations in Cambodia cannot be expanded quickly.

“Most of the investment in pig farming is done with our own money, so we can’t do anything fast,” he said, adding that there are currently about 40,000 pigs on his farm, which supplies 200-300 head to the markets daily.

Cambodia Livestock Raisers Association (CLRA) director Srun Poav said he acknowledged that there are risks involved in pig raising, which have made it difficult to obtain credit from financial institutions.

However, he said loans are crucial in promoting pig farming and reducing imports from overseas.

On behalf of the CLRA, he lauded the government’s efforts to expand livestock raising and promote local products, which will generate jobs for locals.

“I have often mentioned at the meetings that financial institutions need to lend more money to pig farmers,” said Poav.

He said live pigs are worth around 11,000-12,000 riel ($2.75-$3.00) per kilogramme, up from around 8,000 riel during the same period last year.

The current demand in Cambodia for pigs fit for human consumption is around 6,000-7,000 head per day, he said.

There are no official figures for the number of pig farms in the Kingdom, but he said there are currently three large-scale farms in Cambodia – M’s Pig ACMC, CP Cambodia Co Ltd and Betagro (Cambodia) Co Ltd. The latter two are Thai-owned.

Tan Phannara, the director-general of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, heads a working group tasked with disseminating animal-raising information and practices.

He said the task force’s mission has always been to maintain healthy animal hygiene, and promote and encourage domestic raising, especially in the face of the ongoing health crisis.

“We are currently recommending that large commercial growers increase their production, and if domestic raising is going well, we may stop importing pigs,” said Phannara.

He said Cambodia currently imports between 2,000 and 3,000 live pigs from Thailand daily, accounting for more than 20 per cent of total domestic demand.

At the same time, he said the Kingdom currently produces about 1.5 million tonnes of animal feed per year, equal to about 60 per cent of the country’s total consumption.

Last weekend, Minister Veng Sakhon visited agro-industrial conglomerate Mong Reththy Group’s development site located in Keo Phos commune, Stung Hav district, Preah Sihanouk province.

He called on the company to speed up production of pigs, chickens, ducks, fish and vegetables to help supply the local demand.

“I call on livestock and animal feed companies to work together to increase their joint productivity, ensuring food security now and in the future, and especially to absorb domestic labour as much as possible,” said Sakhon.