The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has banned the import of live chickens due to a lack of markets caused by the recent spread of Covid-19. However, it is in discussions with stakeholders to find buyers for farmers.

The ministry’s director-general for animal health and production Tan Phannara said the decision would help solve oversupply of chickens. Meanwhile, experts are collecting data on the exact number of live chicken in stock across the country to identify market needs.

“We are looking for markets to buy chickens from farmers. I have urged all stakeholders to meet immediately to plan what to do about the current situation. Until now, we do not yet have clear data,” he said.

Phannara confirmed that any measures required solving the spread of Covid-19 first. The ministry will reopen after the recent outbreak has been contained.

“This oversupply is due to the outbreak only. There are no problems, we have no blockages,” he said.

Phannara acknowledged that if the problem persists for too long, the chickens will be overfed and could even die.

“Currently, we are calling on people to buy from farmers and I also talked to the Cambodian Livestock Raisers Association. We are still debating how we can contribute on behalf of the association. The association is also considering this so that we can find a solution to this problem. Next week we will continue to talk more,” he said.

The association chairman, Srun Pov, said there has been discussion with the ministry on ways to find markets for farmers. But he said that currently it is difficult to find one due to the outbreak.

“We have been researching markets, but there’s just no market for the chickens. Therefore, we call on the government to help address the issue. We do not know what to do besides making this appeal,” he said.

Cheav Samnang, who raises chickens in Por Mreal commune’s Romdos Thmey village of Kampong Speu province’s Baset district, said traders came to buy about 20,000 chickens from farmers in the village, equivalent to around 20 tonnes, at a price of 1,500 riel ($0.35) per kg. But, he said the number of chickens in this district remains large.

“If the situation continues like this for at least another three months, farmers will definitely have a problem. If they [banks] come to confiscate chickens and chicken coops, farmers won’t be able to cover costs. We are asking Samdech [Prime Minister Hun Sen] to request banks to delay loan repayments otherwise people won’t have any money,” he said.