Nearly 50 pig traders along the border in Banteay Meanchey province gathered at the O’Beichoan Commune Hall on March 30 to seek solutions from the authorities concerning the import of pigs from Thailand to Cambodia. They say a pig importing company has blocked them from doing business.
Te Kimlong, a representative for the pig traders in O’Chrov district’s O’Beichoan commune, told The Post on March 30 that they earned just enough to support their families.
“Each week, I would go buy pigs from Thai farmers at the border twice, importing one or two pigs at a time depending on whether their size. We transported them by motorbike and then slaughtered them to supply vendors in O’Beichoan market,” he said.
He said the local authorities understood their situation and allowed them to import pigs, but recently a senior military officer driving a car with RCAF (Royal Cambodian Armed Forces) licence plates had chased them along the border in Svay Chek district.
The officer claimed to be the representative of a company that had exclusive licence to import animals from Thailand.
“We’ve come to seek help from the local authorities to negotiate with the military officer representing the company to allow us to continue to do business. Our small business only earns a little income to feed our families,” Kimlong said.
O’Beichoan commune chief Tol Sarin said a total of 47 pig and pork vendors in the commune had petitioned him asking him to either intervene or help them bring the case to O’Chrov district or provincial authorities.
“There’s not a lot I can do in this situation either, but I will send their petition to the district administration and ask them to resolve it,” he said.
Sarin said the military officer had been identified as Svay Chek district military commander Yoeung Pok.
Reached on March 30 for comment, Pok said he represented the Lim Sivmey Company in the province. He said he only stopped pigs being illegally imported from Thailand and sent them to the officials in charge of border customs to be dealt with according to the law.
He said the officials at the border were worried that animals imported from Thailand that went unchecked could have diseases and cause an outbreak of local infections.
“The company is being cheated by brokers who import dozens of pigs from Thailand illegally and try to evade taxes and the animal health inspections. This leads to a loss of state tax revenue and affects the [profits] of legitimate companies,” he said.
Hun Sarath – deputy director of the Department of Animal Health and Production under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – said Pok was helping prevent the importation of cases of African swine flu from Thailand – where it is known to be circulating – into Cambodia.
“Illegally importing pigs from abroad not only causes a loss of state tax revenue but it also poses health risks, because those animals do not have health certificates issued by the officials of the exporting country,” he said.
Sarath urged traders to stop importing live pigs illegally without animal health inspections.