ASF Vietnam: Virus in Hai Phong; plea for transport ban

25-02-2019 | | |
All quiet on the southern front: On this pig farm near Ho Chi Minh City, it s business as usual. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
All quiet on the southern front: On this pig farm near Ho Chi Minh City, it s business as usual. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

With the 1st outbreaks of African Swine Fever reported from Vietnam, the question is how it will develop further. While the virus is also reported in the northern province Hai Phong, a thorough transport ban may help to stop a rapid spread to the south.

In the course of this weekend, reports emerged about a new case of African Swine Fever (ASF) in northern Vietnam. This outbreak would have occurred in the north of Hai Phong province, at virtually the same level as the other 3 outbreaks reported last week, and also within 100 km of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. The new outbreak is yet to be confirmed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). In the interactive map below, the province Hai Phong has been coloured orange.

As a result of the 1st outbreaks, at 8 communities in Hung Yen and Thai Binh provinces, the Vietnamese government set up a task force with delegates from all these regions, responsible for the culling of the pigs and the taking of samples from farms in areas surrounding the areas that were hit by ASF.

Investments in Vietnam’s pig business

Compound feed producer De Heus, headquartered in the Netherlands, has recently been investing strongly in Asia. The company is within the top-3 of feed producers in Vietnam and has its Asian headquarters in that country as well. Over the last 9 years, De Heus constructed 8 plants, spread out over the country. Of its total feed production, 45% is aimed for the pig market.

Gabor Fluit is business group director for De Heus in Asia. In an interview with Pig Progress sister title Boerderij, he said that he could not rule out the possibility that the company’s customers will be hit by ASF in the future, although that doesn’t appear the case right now. In recent months, the compound feed producer has spent a lot of attention on training people to apply correct measures on-farm, he explained.

As the ASF infections in Vietnam do not come as a total surprise, Mr Fluit said that there is a possibility that further spread might occur in neighbouring countries in South East Asia, like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or even Thailand.

Read more about Vietnam in this background analysis

Illegal transport of pigs

In southern Vietnam, De Heus owns a sow farm for demonstration purposes as well as an artificial insemination centre for the distribution of genetics. Mr Fluit commented, “For now, we do not run a risk over there,” adding that he is worried about ‘illegal’ transport of live pigs from northern Vietnam to southern Vietnam. He hoped that the Vietnamese authorities will aim for a transport ban – and that this will actively be maintained.

In the meantime, pig prices in Northern Vietnam have plummeted, whereas in the south the prices are still acceptable. After 2 bad years things had just picked up a bit as the border between China and Vietnam had been blocked due to Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in Vietnam.

This swine farm in Vietnam had to scale back due to bad market conditions

Vietnam: A promising market for pork

Vietnam forms an important export market for the European Union as well as Latin America – and it is one that is growing fast as well. Between January and November 2018, pork exports from the EU to Vietnam grew by over 50%, as in that timeframe over 83,000 tonnes were shipped to Vietnam. The country is the number 8 export destination for the EU.

About 75% of all meat consumption is pork in Vietnam. The country has almost 95 million inhabitants.

Judith Waninge Freelance journalist