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Pig farmers, Officials Gain Experience in US

By: Chun Sophal & Dan Poynton The Mekong Times Posted: May-21-2008 in
Chun Sophal & Dan Poynton The Mekong Times

The pig industry Governance and Technology Assessment Mission is being funded by USAID, through the Cambodia MSME Project, which is run by development organization DAI. Senator Mong Reththy, co-chairman of the Agro-Industry Private Sector Working Group and leader of the US delegation, said before his departure that everyone in the delegation will gain a lot of knowledge from the visit and will then pass on this scientific, agricultural and animal husbandry knowledge to the local community.

"We hope pig-raising in Cambodia will be transformed after this visit," he said.

The nine-day visit is the first of its kind for Cambodia and is aimed at allowing officials and pig sector workers to gain an understanding of modern industrial technology and methods presently being used to upgrade animal-raising productivity, increase profits and market pork effectively.

"We are sending them to the US because this is where they will see how effective government, technical and higher education institutions, industry associations, and private firms work closely together to produce the best products for the lowest possible prices, and where competition is the mechanism for continuous improvement of the industry," said DAI's Curtis Hundley, project manager of the Cambodia MSME Project.

During the visit the participants – from Phnom Penh and Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham, Kratie and Prey Veng provinces – will visit pig markets, pig farms and slaughterhouses, and pig fodder producers, as well as listening to scientists' views on pig-raising techniques at a North Carolina agricultural university, according to DAI. Hundley said one of the main problems in the Cambodian industry is the lack of technical assistance available to farmers and input suppliers which results in most farmers losing 50 percent or more of their pigs before they can sell them.

"Farmers don't know what chemicals to use and input suppliers don't have access to high quality, undiluted medicines," he said, adding that, on the business side, the swine supply chain is weak. "Most people in the supply chain haven't had the opportunity to work together to improve their production and business activities. Also, many government institutions sell market functions, such as trader licenses, that actually inhibit the ability of farmers to sell their products on a competitive basis and do nothing to upgrade the industry or provide higher quality, lower cost pork products to consumers," said Hundley.

Has Piseth, deputy director of the Agricultural Ministry's Department of Animal Health and Production, said the mission will improve Cambodians' presently poor knowledge of pig farming. "However we should acknowledge that pig farming does not totally depend on raising methods, but also on climate. Some pig farming in the US is successful, but in Cambodia it is different because the climate is different," he said. Hundley said the amount of pig farmers selling commercially to the retail market in Cambodia is probably in the range of 100,000 to 300,000 families – a lot more than the 5,000 farmers often mentioned in the media and other sources.

This article first appeared in The Mekong Times
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