Meat prices likely to fall before Tet

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HCM CITY — The animal husbandry industry in the remaining months of the year will strengthen production to ensure supply of livestock and poultry meat in the domestic market at reasonable prices, especially on the occasion of Lunar New Year, an official said yesterday.

Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy head of the Animal Husbandry Department, said at a meeting in HCM City that demand for meat of all kinds in the later half of the year is estimated at 1.7-1.8 million tonnes, an increase of 4-4.5 per cent over the same period last year.

Prices of livestock and poultry products were forecast to remain high in the second half but would be 10-15 per cent lower than the first half, he said, adding that pork prices would slightly fall at the end of this month.

Prices of livestock and poultry products increased strongly in the first half of the year, with that of pork increasing the most by between 54.1-71.2 per cent over the end of last year, Son said.

He attributed the higher prices to disease outbreaks, increased input costs and a poor distribution system.

The blue ear pig disease outbreak last year and earlier this year, for instance, reduced the number of pigs by 10-30 per cent over the same period last year, leading to a supply shortage in the first half, especially in June and July.

Several problems continued to plague the distribution system, particularly the large number of middlemen, causing a big difference between buying prices at pigsties and selling price to customers, he said.

The country produced 1.68 million tones of meat in the first half, basically meeting the domestic demand.

However, the production situation at different regions was unequal, causing partial shortages and price differences in several localities, he said.

Tran Tan An, deputy general director of Vissan Ltd, and Chau Nhat Trung, general director of Huynh Gia Huynh De Ltd, agreed that to stabilise supply and price of livestock and poultry products, the sector must invest in a value chain that links production to consumption.

However, this was not easy to do in the current situation, they said.

Nguyen Chi Cong, owner of a breeding farm in southern Dong Nai Province, said although pig prices were high, many farmers didn’t want to resume breeding or expand production due to the risks involved and the high interest rates charged by banks.

The Government must take measures to ensure farmers get at least 15 per cent profit from their breeding so as to induce stability in the animal husbandry industry, he said.

Participants at the meeting asked relevant agencies to implement effective measures to control diseases towards reducing risks faced by breeders.

They also asked the Government to create conditions for businesses and enterprises in the sector to access long-term bank loans and map out a clear zoning plan for the industry. This would help enterprises feel more secure about their investment, they said.

In the long-term, the Government should build national cold storage facilities to stockpile pork and prevent sudden shortages, Son said.

Pham Duc Binh, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Animal Feed Association, said the development of local raw material for animal feed must be encouraged to reduce reliance on imports.

Animal feed accounted for 60-70 per cent of production costs, and although Viet Nam was an agricultural country, it had to import most of the raw materials needed, including maize, soybean and meat powder, he said.

Diep Kinh Tan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said "the development of domestic husbandry industry in the past years has not met expectation, with its growth rate lower than the increase in demand."

High price fluctuations in the past months have greatly affected consumers, especially low-income earners, he said.

Currently, prices of pork and poultry in the north are about VND10,000 higher than that in the south. "I request enterprises to continue transporting pork and poultry meat to the north to stabilise the market there," Tan said.

He ordered the Animal Husbandry Department to review all aspects of breeder development, including demand and pricing.

Breeding firms have benefited from a lot of preferential policies from the Government, so they considered reducing prices to help farmers, he said. — VNS

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