The government officially has banned the import of hogs, amid a recent scare that sick or “mad” pigs are being brought into Cambodia from Thailand.
The ministries of Finance and Agriculture on Wednesday issued separate statements to provincial authorities across the country prohibiting any import of swine, noting that the move will be temporary.
Provincial authorities then cracked down on border provinces to prevent the trade in pigs, agriculture officials said on Thursday.
One pork vendor at Phnom Penh’s Kandal market on Thursday said the move cut her daily pork sales in half. “Most people dare not buy pork because they are scared they would get crazy,” said the vendor, who identified herself as Thea. At least 5 kg of pork were seen left at her stall.
Phath Leng, director of the municipal agriculture department, confirmed the vendor’s concerns and said the 600 pigs slaughtered in Phnom Penh every day have been cut back to 300.
“We have to ban the import of pigs to assuage people’s fears,” he said, adding Phnom Penh’s slaughterhouses are undergoing a thorough check for disease.
The scare broke out last week, when press reports indicated that pork sales were plummeting due to rumors of a disease in Thai pigs similar to the “mad cow” disease that spread in England.
But officials maintain that no evidence of a “mad pig” disease has surfaced, saying the ban is merely a precaution.
Agriculture Minister Chhea Song this week acknowledged that pigs were brought illegally into the Koh Kong province from Thailand recently, but authorities there said they are working to prevent more smuggling.
The agriculture director in Koh Kong said the move should not affect the number of available pigs that were raised locally. Roughly 32 hog farms with up to 1,000 mature pigs currently are available for meat, said Koh Kong Agriculture Department Director Huoth Thoung.