As African Swine Fever (ASF) ravages five Cambodian provinces, causing more than $600,000 in losses to local farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Saturday it will now allow the sale of disease-free pigs from afflicted areas.
A total of 3,211 pigs have died in Ratanakkiri, Tbong Khmum, Svay Rieng, Takeo and Kandal provinces from both the disease and culling.
The ministry on Saturday announced it had sent livestock officials and equipment to ASF-ridden areas.
“The ministry will allow the sale of pigs if a blood sample analysis reveals they are free from African swine fever so that the people can earn more to offset their expenses,” said the announcement.
Tan Phannara, the director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Animal Health and Production, told The Post on Sunday that the ministry will launch four mobile test units to areas with an outbreak of ASF with support from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Cambodia Livestock Raisers Association president Pov Srun welcomed the ministry’s decision but called on veterinary officials to perform strict examinations to avoid spreading the fever.
“If [livestock raisers] can still sell their disease-free pigs, I support it, but be sure that sick pigs are strictly controlled,” he said.
Srun said it is concerning that ASF has spread to more than 600 commercial pig farms across the Kingdom, which are worth millions of dollars.
Pov said farmers can sell their live pigs at $200 on average per head.
With losses in the sector currently at about $640,000, he called on the government to help relieve some of the “poor” pig farmers’ losses.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan on Thursday said although ASF has had a serious impact on Cambodia’s pig raisers, there is no law requiring the state to pay for their losses because the Kingdom is a free marketplace.
“In principle, our laws do not [require the government] to share in the cost of any damage, but it does not mean we are ignoring the issue,” he said.
However, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said on Sunday that the ministry has vowed to provide piglets to farmers affected by ASF.
Chann Mom, a pork salesperson at Phsar Depot market in the capital’s Tuol Kork district, said sales in the last four to five days had dropped to about half due to consumer paranoia, despite the disease not affecting humans.
“In the past, I sold four pigs per day but at the moment I cannot even sell two,” she said.