Vientiane pig farmers want debt issues addressed

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Vientiane Pig Farm Group is hopeful that the government will help it to tide over its debt-related issues.

Pig farmers have been struggling with mounting debts for years and the price of pork products continues to fluctuate, especially with the threat of African swine flu looming large.

The group’s head, Mr Neuang Sombounkhan, told Vientiane Times yesterday he was hopeful that the government will agree to hold talks and suggest appropriate measures to deal with the group’s mounting debts.

“Our group owes the government a debt and after the fall in the price of pork in recent years our members have not been able to pay off the interest on loans. Our breeding activities have been virtually halted,” he said.

He said the group’s members still hold regular meetings, but there are fewer activities as several members have diversified into other areas of agriculture.

“We want to talk to government officials about our unresolved debt issues. Hopefully, a discussion will be held soon as we want to hear from the government about how we can manage these payments,” Mr Neuang said.

He was optimistic that the current sale price of pork will encourage local producers to continue pig farming, but the debt-related issues must be addressed as a priority.

When asked about how African swine flu was impacting the sale of pork, he said it has had only a minor effect on sales because group members no longer raise large herds of pigs.

Pork continues to be as popular as other meat products, despite the ongoing outbreak of African swine flu. People still flock to markets to buy pork, as it is the most affordable meat.

Currently, good quality pork sells for 35,000 kip a kg in Vientiane markets.

Authorities in the livestock and fisheries department are closely monitoring the outbreak of the virus in Saravan’s Toumlan district and Naxiao village in Naxaithong district, Vientiane.

Last week, authorities said all pork products sold in Vientiane markets were safe to eat, and that inspections were conducted in Saravan province last month.

Health officials also say that well-cooked pork is safe to eat and that the African swine flu virus does not harm humans in any way.

So far, 2,500 pigs nationwide have died from the disease, according to recent statistics issued by the ministry.

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