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Swine imports spell the end of good fortune for farmers

A pig farmer monitors her livestock on a farm in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district
A pig farmer monitors her livestock on a farm in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district. RANN REUY

Swine imports spell the end of good fortune for farmers

Three years ago, the high prices for pig livestock inspired Chhoeurng Sarun and many other villagers in Svay Rieng province, near the Vietnam border, to go into small-scale farming.

She spent $500 on building pens to house 20 pigs. But the easy money didn’t last long. Imports coming over from the Vietnamese and Thai borders flooded the market, and prices fell.

“When I started to raise pigs, they cost 11,000 riel [$2.75] per kilogram”, she said adding that the rate had fallen as low to 6,000 riel a kilogram today. The difference wasn’t insignificant, and forced Sarun to abandon the scheme.

“I regret quitting, but I can’t make profit at all,” she said. “If there were not as many imports, Cambodian swine prices would not have dropped this dramatically.”

Srun Pov, the president of the Cambodian Pig Raising Association in Kandal province, estimated that at least 70 per cent of household pig farmers have called it quits.

In theory, the farmers shouldn’t face problems. Responding to complaints in 2009 about oversupply, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF), set the maximum allowable number of daily imports at 800. But Pov and farmers say the quota is rarely enforced.

“If we go to see imports of pigs at Neak Loeung ferry, we are almost knocked unconscious,” said Ly Lavil, manager of a pig farmhouse at Mong Rithy Group, a local company.

Kao Phal, director of the Animal Health and Production Department at the ministry, did not return several calls for comment.

Srey Sothea, 28, who lives in the province’s Santrea district, said that her family has one or two pigs for breeding, and she sells off the piglets.

“Even though the price goes down, but we have pig mother for producing them by ourselves,” she said. “But it is very small profit,” she said.

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