With pork prices rising relentlessly, pigs are being smuggled over the border from neighbouring countries into Vietnam.
The meat now sells for around 100,000 dong ($4.30) per kg.
The An Giang Province Border Guard said in the first five months of this year it has helped prevent six cases of pig smuggling and seized more than six tonnes of smuggled pork.
An Giang province is in the Kampuchea Krom region and is known in Khmer as Moat Chrouk, which translates to ‘pig mouth’. It borders Cambodia’s Takeo and Kandal provinces.
A spokesman said the incidence of smuggling has increased recently.
He said smugglers bring pigs to the Tien (main northern branch of the Mekong through Vietnam) and Hau (Tonle Bassac in Cambodia) rivers from neighbouring countries and use small boats to fetch them to local markets at night under the cover of darkness.
If authorities find and pursue them, the smugglers flee, leaving all their belongings behind, he said.
In the last three weeks of last month, border guards in An Giang stopped three cases of smuggling and seized nearly 50 pigs weighing nearly three tonnes, he said.
At 2:30am on May 30, soldiers from the Phu Huu Border Guard Station in An Giang’s An Phu district found a man in a small boat in Canal No 5 in a local commune.
When challenged by the troops, the man jumped into the canal and swam away into Cambodia, leaving behind the junk and 12 pigs.
Authorities in other border provinces like Dong Thap and Long An – also known by their respective Khmer names Phsar Dek and Kampong Ko – have also recently stopped pig smuggling from Cambodia.
Dong Thap borders the Kingdom’s Prey Veng province and its neighbour to the east Long An borders Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.
On March 14, environmental police officers from the Ministry of Public Security came across smugglers in Long An’s Vinh Hung district and seized more than 100 pigs weighing more than 10 tonnes.
They had found the pigs some 5km inside the border in lorries. Their drivers said they had been hired over phone to transport the pigs and did not know who their owners were.
On to central markets
A source from the Lao Bao Border Guard Station in the central province of Quang Tri revealed that on May 21 soldiers had spotted two smugglers bringing pigs in from Laos.
The smugglers escaped to Laos, leaving behind 14 pigs on a small boat.
It was the fifth time the soldiers had accosted smugglers and in all seized nearly 100 pigs worth hundreds of millions of dong.
Data from relevant agencies in Quang Tri show that the water level in the Sepon river is now lower than normal, enabling smugglers to transport pigs from Laos’ Savannakhet province. Traders also buy the pigs in Thailand.
Once the animals arrive in Vietnam, they are loaded on lorries and transported to markets.
Pigs on the hoof sell for 50,000-60,000 dong per kg in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, but 100,000 dong now in Vietnam, offering windfall profits to smugglers.
The People’s Committee of Huong Hoa district said hundreds of pigs have been smuggled into Vietnam bypassing veterinary and quarantine requirements since early last month.
Authorities warned this posed a risk of spreading African swine fever and threatened food safety.
Since the last week of March, the Quang Tri provincial administration has required authorities to prevent the smuggling of pigs across the border, but the situation has not improved.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK