Vietnam’s pig repopulation plans in disarray after fresh ASF scare

21 Nov 2019 | Tim Worledge

Efforts by Vietnam’s livestock industry to rebuild pig herds have been dealt a serious blow by an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) among pig stocks intended to help repopulate, market sources told Agricensus Thursday.

The fresh outbreak is said to have originated in one of the country’s industrial livestock operations and comes as pork prices have surged in recent months, with the government encouraging repopulation and issuing assurances that the outbreak was under control.

“Hundreds of breeding pigs (were sold) to farmers for repopulation but suddenly all of them died and the ASF virus has been found from that pig,” one market source said, with the company at the heart of fears that have temporarily halted the resale of breeding pigs.

“This is having a severe impact on repopulation plans,” the market source said.

While pig prices have stabilised in the last few days, they remain at or near record highs, particularly in the north of the country and in the border regions between Vietnam and China, where prices were quoted as high as VND131,000/kg ($5,660/mt).

The high price has encouraged repopulation, but much of Vietnam’s pig supply has typically come from smallholder farms that have small herds. These are unable to employ full biosecurity measures and remain exposed to further outbreaks.

Moreover, many of these small entities have already lost money going through the repopulation loop, only to see another outbreak devastate their herd.

As such, the outbreak was thought to favour a transition towards larger, industrial-scale pig operations that are able to employ full biosecurity measures.

But this outbreak appears to be connected to one of the country’s biggest players.

“It’s a farm that does outwork for Mavin. One small farmer bought 400 pigs to repopulate on November 6, and by November 9, 30 pigs had died and they sent samples to test for ASF,” a second market source said.

Mavin supplies animal feed and livestock to the sector and is thought to have suspended its activity around supplying pigs for repopulating in the wake of the discovery.

That comes despite the company’s CEO, Dao Manh Luong, saying in late October that it is ready to support restocking and had around 10,000 sows and up to 70,000 piglets available to farmers in the north.

Meanwhile, the country continues to import huge volumes of corn, with up to 1.4 million mt expected to land in November, while soybean meal and DDGS imports have picked up recently.

Agricensus contacted Mavin for comment.