An undisclosed number of pigs were smuggled into Koh Kong province from Thailand last week in violation of a ban prompted by reports of “mad pig disease,” government officials said Thursday.
The pigs are being held while the government determines whether they are infected with the disease, Agricultural Minister Chhea Song said.
Meanwhile, the ban has forced local producers to undergo rigorous checks by officials attempting to make sure that any swine trafficked to other parts of Cambodia is locally produced.
Siv Nhan, first deputy director of animal health and production department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said officials visited Koh Kong last week to verify pigs were locally raised and to check their health. They confirmed that more than 2,000 market-bound pigs were locally raised and exhibited no signs of disease.
Reports in Khmer-language newspapers that diseased pigs had been imported from Thailand raised widespread alarm earlier this month, cutting into pork sales at local markets. The scare led the government to impose an indefinite ban on imported pigs. “The locally raised pigs are healthy and have no disease,” Siv Nhan said.
Though some market sellers reported dramatic drops in pig sales after the scare, some officials said the ban may help Cambodian farmers in the long term.
“This move can encourage people to raise more and more pigs in Cambodia rather then importing them from abroad,” Pen Siman, customs director, said. “The government wants people to raise pigs, and to protect the price of locally raised pigs.”
There are at least 10 hog farms in Koh Kong province alone, producing more then 1,000 pigs that weigh between 80 kg and 100 kg, said Huoth Thuong, director of agriculture department in Koh Kong. The pigs all originate from seven male pigs and 30 sows imported from Thailand.
“The pigs imported from Thailand grow faster then those in Cambodia,” he said. “That is why people prefer raising them in Thailand.”