Cambodian cattle farmers concerned by falling prices, illegal imports

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): A large number of cattle raisers have complained that cow prices have fallen and not many traders have been buying cows for more than a month. A local livestock raising association has suggested that falling prices may be due to an increase in meat imports from neighbouring countries.

Em Phall, a farmer who raises cattle in Samrong commune of Kampong Cham province’s Prey Chhor district, said on Aug 20 that since before the July 23 general election, live cattle prices have fallen remarkably compared to the beginning of the year.

A large cow that would previously sell for between 2.5 and 3 million riel ($600 to $720) had fallen to 2 million riel or less.

He added that farmers in his district were also experiencing reduced demand.

“We raise cattle for months, but when we sell them, we are not even breaking even. For example, a cow that cost us two million riel might only sell for 2.1 million, which is not enough to offset the time and money we have invested in feeding and caring for them.

“I don’t know why the price has fallen. It may be because the Vietnamese market is not buying them,” he said.

Phall hoped that prices would soon return to normal, as the market is very dependent on the trade in neighbouring countries, noting that there are few domestic traders.

Ket Saren, another breeder from Takeo province, said that as prices has fallen, he would like the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to help them find new markets.

“As a cattle breeder, I want the live cattle market to expand so that more farmers will breed high-quality livestock. These low prices are harming local economies, and I am concerned that many farmers will abandon this type of business,” he added.

He said he is waiting to see what policies the government of the new mandate will introduce to help the industry.

Cambodia Livestock Raisers Association (CLRA) director Srun Pov said prices may be falling due to the illicit import of frozen meat from neighbouring countries. He warned that this trade may include beef, pork, chicken and duck meat, as well as animals’ entrails.

“There are not many people raising cattle in Cambodia, when compared to those who farm pigs and chickens. However, I believe the lower prices might be due to the secret import of a great deal of frozen meat, which is usually very cheap in other countries. They won’t consume it, so unscrupulous traders secretly import it to Cambodia, which hurts the cattle sector here,” he said.

Pov called on all pertinent authorities to curb the secret imports, noting that they not only hurt farmers but are also a threat to public health.

According to the agriculture ministry, in 2022, the animal health and production sub-sector had guaranteed a supply of animal meat that would meet the needs of the people.

It noted that a total of 65.20 million animals were produced in 2022 – an 8.8 per cent increase on the previous year. The figures included a 41 per cent jump in commercial cattle farming, equal to about 26.56 million head of cattle.