The African swine fever started to apprear in Vietnam in January 2019, after that the outbreaks have quickly spread. By June 2020, more than 6 million of pigs were culled due to ASF dramas, with the financial damage estimated at more than 515 million USD. The ASF is new in Vietnam and it has resulted a very serious impact on the pig industry, mostly affecting the smallholders. The risk of African swine fever in smallholders and cooperatives which account for 65% of pork production was high. Up to now the reproduction is still difficult, so the supply capacity of pig meat is weak, and consequently, this has a direct effect on the high price of meat in the domestic market. The solution for smallholder livestock against ASF is developing cooperatives with disease-free measures, but the gap of piglet supply is the main constraint.
THE MOVEMENTS OF AFRICAN SWINE FEVER (ASF) IN VIETNAM
The African swine fever started to apprear in Vietnam in January 2019, after that the outbreaks have quickly spread. The disease has spread to 16 provinces by 14th March 2019 and created an enormous loss. The disease began in North Vietnam, and has spread to Dong Nai and Hau Giang provinces which are the two major provinces of pork production in the South by April 2019. The disease has spread to 8,553 communes in 667 districts of 63 provinces or cities by 11th December 2019. Approximately close to 6 million pigs have been culled and the total weight was over 340,000 tons which accounted for 9% of pork production in Vietnam. The expansion of disease decreased significantly between June 2019 and December 2019. By March 2020, the country had 8,344 communes (accounting for over 98% of the total number of disease communes) and 100% communes in 35 provinces of Vietnam which had outbreaks in over 30 days and in 24 provinces and cities which also had outbreaks in over 85% number of communes. There were 206 communes in 79 districts and 28 provinces which had zero outbreaks. By June 2020, more than 6 million of pigs were culled due to ASF dramas, with the financial damage estimated at 12,000 billion VND, equivalent to 515 million USD (Vietnamnet, 2020). The government had located the locations of outbreaks and culled all African swine fever-infected pigs and had banned transportation of pig and pork products from, or through, those areas. The government efforts had reduced or located the outbreaks but had not yet completely stopped it. However, in some areas where the disease had been spreading due to illegal slaughtering of African swine fever-infected pigs in some small slaughterhouses. There are still no vaccines for African swine fever and the disease transmission was very complicated, households were facing a difficult time to implement the biosecurity measures. The risk of African swine fever in smallholders and cooperatives which account for 65% of pork production was high. Eventhough, industrial farms were also at high risk of contacting the African swine fever.
It is clear that from the beginning of 2020 until now, that African swine fever have appeared in small scale households, and that proper disease prevention and biosecurity measures have not been employed or applied.
According to the assessment, the risk of African swine fever contamination is at an alarming rate because there are still no vaccines for the disease; the virus can persist long in the environment and it has high resistance. Also, the transmission of virus is very complicated and it is difficult to control. In the case of household farming, small-scale households who raise pigs at high density find it difficult to apply the proper biosecurity measures.
DIFFICULTIES AND SOLUTIONS AGAINST AFRICAN SWINE FEVER
Since middle 2018, many districts and provinces in Vietnam have been restructuring the veterinary system. Needless to say, the veterinary system is facing many difficulties, especially the lack of forecasting function and reporting the outbreaks, or the low capacity to implement the tasks to control the outbreaks.
Building disease-free production areas by applying biosecurity measures
The whole country currently has 221 production value chains and production areas, all of which have been certified as disease-free. Besides, there are 32 disease-free regions (in which 31 regions of districts and 1 region of province/city). The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has suggested World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to support Vietnam in forming chains, disease free regions; including pig chains in Binh Thuan Province, poultry chains in Binh Phuoc for exportation purposes. The veterinary sector continues to consolidate the system of veterinary agencies in accordance with the Law on Veterinary Medicine. Disease prevention and control can be well organized because this is the basic foundation for forming a region and production chains of safety for domestic consumption and exportation. While there are a lot of farms which are at high risk for African swine fever, some farms are completely free from African swine fever because the farm owners know how to protect their farms. There is no ASF vaccine available in Vietnam, and even bactericide is not useful for viral treatment. The common point of these safe farms is that they are far away from residential areas and the farm owner practices biosecurity measures. The only way to prevent is farm isolation and using disinfection mesures. By applying the stricter measures of isolation and limiting the external factors, some farms maintain and develop during the African swine fever. Vietnam witnessed the reduction of African swine fever-infected pigs under the guidance of the Department of Animal Health, the farms which apply biosecurity started to restock swineherd to supply pork to markets. Department of Animal Health carries out duties on quarantine, controlling the slaughterhouses, veterinary hygiene, and food safety; and selecting a number of potential businesses, and supporting the development of the disease-free animal husbandry and aquaculture chains for domestic consumption and exportation purposes.
Solution to restock swine herd after the African swine fever outbreaks
According to the report of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in May 2020, Vietnam has 24 million heads of pigs which accounted for 77% of the total of pigs before the African swine fever (it was 31 million pigs in December 2018) and 2.7 million sows. The businesses are focusing on resources to invest to keep the old pigs, there are still approximately 109 million great-grandparent pigs and 90% of these pigs are still free from disease. Therefore, the supply of piglets meets the demand of farms for restocking swine herds.
In order to effectively implement the program in the prevention of African swine fever, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development suggests that in the future, districts and provinces continue to implement drastically and synchronously tasks and solutions to prevent African swine fever as stated in Directive No.34-CT/TW of the Secretatiat, Resolution No.100/2019/QH14 of the National Assembly, Resolution No. 42 / NQ-CP of the Government, guiding documents of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. This is to avoid subjective situation, neglect of disease recurrence, spread, which casues serious consequences.
In addition, the government continues to organize research on solutions to prevent and control the disease; cooperate and take advantage of international and foreign support to prevent and control African swine fever and research to produce vaccines for disease prevention. To guide for restocking swine herds, implementation is practiced according to the principles of strict application of isolation, hygiene, disinfecting and biosercurity measures under the governance of local authority and specialized agencies. Supporting and creating favorable conditions for large livestock enterprises, farms ensure that biosercurity for restocking swine herds to supply to market which can stabilize the price of pork is practiced or implemented. At the same time, promoting the development of production and breeding of other animals, poultry and aquaculture, ensuring the principles of biosecurity measures, balancing supply and demand and ensuring social security are also implemented. In particular, prevention and prompt detection are practiced to strictly handle cases of smuggling, illegal transportation and trafficking of pigs and pig products entering from Vietnam to other countries. Urgent implemention, governance and strengthening the capacity of the veterinary specialized governance system at all levels in accordance with the Law on Veterinary Medicine are done to ensure that all levels are capable of fulfilling their duties.
Solution to regulate the pork price at market: freezing, temporarily storing pork, quotas for importing frozen pork
Local authorities and animal husbandry enterprises are allowing disease-free pigs to be transported to other areas for slaughter and consumption. This disease-free certification was provided by local vetenary base on symptom observations at farm and slaughterhouse levels. The ASF is difficult to diagnose by clinic symtoms, so the vetenary have to apply the diferential diagnosis by polymerase chain reaction method with Pocket PCR (Happyvet, 2020). Othersire, the situation of lack of pork and over pork supply will occur. Therefore, farmers can not sell pigs and they will find ways to hide the disease and illegal transport, which will even make the situation more complicated.
If the pigs got African swine fever, who have been destroyed, the government will have to spend money to support for farmers at the level of 80% of the selling pork price. There is a risk of the lack of pig meat in the market. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had introduced slaughtering plan for freezing pork for the pig from non ASF infection for meat reserve. If the pork is frozen and temporarily stored and the disease situation gets worse to the end of the year, there will be a source of meat reserve for supply to the markets. Otherwiese, the central government or provincial government don’t provide freeze facility for freezing pork meat, but the local vetenary will certify for the pork into freezing facility as meat from disease-free pork.
The government provides information, propagates fully, accurately and timely the supply and price of food, especially pork products for people to fully understand and to avoid profiteering and speculation of price increases.
In addition, the imbalance between supply and demand increases the retail price of pork quite high, while restocking swine herds is still difficult. The government allows the import of frozen pork according to quotas to stabilize retail pork prices.
The policies to support pig farmers affected by African swine fever
The Prime Minister of Vietnam issued Decision No.793/QĐ-TTg on June 27, 2019 to support individual farmers, farms, cooperative groups, cooperatives who have to cull their pigs due to the Afrian swine fever. The level of support for piglets and meat pigs is the same at 25,000 VND/kg. Sows and boars which are in their reproduction age can be supported at 30,000 VND/kg. There is also support for small medium scale of businesses according to the criteria by law provision of assistance for small and medium-sized enterprises. The support to cull pigs and piglets and meat pigs is 8,000 VND/kg and sows and boars that are in reproduction age can be supported at 10,000 VND/kg. The level of support for businesses will not exceed 30% of the losses due to African swine fever after receiving the funds and insurance support if applicable.
Enterprises that kept the great-grandparent pigs are supported with 500,000 VND/pig to December 31, 2019 to improve biosercurity and sterilization measures to destroy pathogens and ensure maintainance of breeding restocking swine herds to control disease.
According to Decision 793, the mountainous provinces and the Central Highlands, the government has budget support of 80% of loss pigs. For other provinces or cities that have a proportion of the government budget revenues divided by 50% or more, the government actively uses the local budget reserves to implement the regulation.
The government will support 50% of the budget for those provinces and cities that have less than 50% of the revenue sharing. For other provinces and cities that have not been able to balance the budget, the government budget supports 70% of the support from government budget. Provinces and cities spend up to 70% of the provincial financial reserve fund to support losses due to African swine fever. In cases of provinces where the level of damage is too high, if the local budget can not cover, the central government budget will finance the difference beyond the resources of the provinces and cities.
According to the Prime Minister's decision, the chainmen of the People's Committees of the provinces and cities decide on the level of support for members of the veterinary staff, and other people who have participated in African swine fever prevention at 200,000 VND (9 USD) /working day, 40,000 VND (0.2 USD)/working day respectively.
Regarding credit policies to support farmers whose farms suffered from African swine fever outbreaks, provinces have implemented support from the budget. Recently, the Government policy has had many credits, debt freezing, debt rescheduling. If people can not afford to pay debts, writing off the debts can be considered, creating conditions for people, including those who are affected by African swine fever to have conditions that support the restock of swine herds.
Solutions of diversification of livestock cooperatives
While the whole country had 973 pig cooperatives in 2017, it was 1,104 cooperatives in 2018 and until April 2020 there were only 911 cooperatives. Thus, compared to the time when there was no African swine fever, the number of pigs cooperatives decreased significantly by 193, which accounted for the reduction of 13.7% of the cooperatives. In addition to the reduction in the number of pigs cooperatives, the scale and pig herds also dropped sharply.
Although the number of pig cooperatives has decreased dramatically, most pig cooperatives have found ways to overcome difficulties and will not be dissolved. The cooperatives had shifted their operations to other industries such as poultry, aquaculture and planting and develop other businesses to ensure more income for farmers.
There have appeared a number of models of pig cooperatives that are considered to have great prospects and minimize risks. Typically, organic farming cooperatives in Ba Vi (Hanoi), Truong Thanh livestock cooperatives in Hiep Hoa (Bac Giang), Van Truong Xuan pig farming cooperatives (Nam Dinh) have been certified the organic standards set by third party certificator. The model of short linked value chains from farms - cooperative - consumers: typically the safe pork product chain of Dong Hiep Livestock Cooperative (Dong Nai). In this model, the cooperatives play many roles in the value chain such as: supplying feeds, mixing feeds, producing breeds, veterinary services, vaccination, slaughtering, retailing and contracts to consume pigs for cooperative members.
SOME EXISTING PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES OF SMALL-SCALE COOPERATIVES
Almost all of communes/wards in Vietnam have basically stopped the African swine fever by June 2020, while many cooperative owners think the situation of outbreaks is still very complicated. In this difficult time, about 70-80% of cooperatives is seriously lacking of capital to buy feeds and breeds while credit debt has not been paid, so they cannot borrow from banks. The average loan demand is about 3-5 billion VND (128,750-214,590 USD) /cooperative. Due to the serious decline of the sows, the cooperatives do not have any breeds to restock. Producers are lacking of breed sources in the market and the cost for buying breeds is too high.
In this situation, livestock cooperatives suggest that the government and local authorities create conditions for cooperatives to receive the policy support from the government like the support for individual farmers, businesses such as credit access, tax exemption, rescheduling the dates for paying debts, etc. In particular, the review and support for restocking swine herds in cooperatives still remain 30% of the sows, or 50% of the meat pigs compared to before the African swine fever.
In the long term, the government and local authorities should focus on supporting cooperatives on some services which can be monopolized such as feeds and breeds, piglets, slaughtering and preservation process.
There are the needs to support cooperatives to develop their value chains products by supporting cooperatives to form the processing and feed mixing facilities, slaughterhouses, opening shops, and promotion for cooperatives products.
Besides, the cooperatives are facing challenges that they need to change to adapt to the new situation after the African swine fever outbreaks. The crisis is an opportunity for cooperatives to revise their strengths, weaknesses and orientations, restructure production and businesses, increase competitiveness, efficiency and sustainable development. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, firstly, it is necessary to promote pig production of cooperatives in disease free areas. In particular, priority should be given to the development of animal husbandry in the direction of organic and biosafety of pork value chain.
The livestock cooperatives also need to promote the development of many services, especially producing breeds, industrial feeds, slaughterhouses and meat processing in order to form and develop the meat supply chain model and restricting monopoly in the market.
During the ASF and post ASF period, due to shortage of pig meat the pig price had increase 2 times in domestic market. The government has to allow live pig importation from neighbouring countries such as Thailand by quota in short period since June 2020 as a short-term intervention in order to reduce domestic pig price. In order to minimize the risk of ASF penetration, the live pigs have to be raised in the safe desease-free zone with 10 km of diameter. The Vietnam vetenary department has to analyse the samples of these pigs before importation to control ASF and food safety. The pig for meat don’t need to pass the quarantine, but the sow and piglets have to pass the quarantine 14 days in the border (Vietnambiz, 2020).
The ASF is new in Vietnam and it has resulted a very serious impact on the pig industry, mostly affecting the smallholders. Up to now the reproduction is still difficult, so the supply capacity of pig meat is weak, and consequently, this has a direct effect on the high price of meat in the domestic market. The solution for smallholder livestock against ASF is developing cooperatives with disease-free measures, but the gap of piglet supply is the main constraint.
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