|A chicken farm near a household in the southern province of Binh Duong's Ben Cat District. Demand for poultry has decreased due to public concerns over bird flu outbreaks. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy
HA NOI (VNS)— Domestic poultry farmers are struggling after news of the A/H7N9 bird flu virus in China and the H5N1 strain in some localities hit local demand.
According to farmers in several northern provinces, demand for poultry had shown signs of decreasing in April instead of May or June as in previous years.
For the past month, Nguyen Thi Hanh, who owns a farm of 5,000 chickens in Yen The District in the northern province of Bac Giang Province, said she had been extremely worried about the falling demand.
"Our flock have not caught the flu but things are much slower than usual," Hanh said.
According to Hanh, she had been selling at least two tonnes of chickens daily, but now that had dropped to just a few hundreds kilogrammes. The price per kilogramme had also fallen from VND58,000-60,000 to VND47,000-48,000.
Farmers say they cannot cope with this price cut, especially with rising quarantine and feed costs.
A representative from Giang Son Limited Company in Dong Tam Commune said the company previously transported about 600-700kg of chickens each day, but that had slipped to 200-300kg.
Household farmers are also suffering.
Nguyen Van Manh, another farmer in the same commune, said breeding chickens were being sold at VND3,000-5,000 each instead of the normal VND8,000-8,500.
The price of animal feed in Viet Nam was about 15-20 per cent higher than in China, Thailand and Indonesia, according to the Viet Nam Animal Feed Association (VAFA). Last year, Viet Nam imported US$3 billion worth of raw materials to produce animal feed, including soybean and corn.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that normally after the Tet holiday, which this year fell in February, farmers expanded production, but many had reportedly cut back on input costs.
The General Statistics Office also estimated that by April, the volume of poultry was down at least 2-3 per cent compared with last year.
According to Nguyen Tri Cong, chairman of the Dong Nai Livestock Association, the province had about 1.1 million pigs and 10 million chickens, and was among the provinces with the highest number of large-scale livestock facilities, but many firms were selling up, he said.
Nguyen Xuan Duong, acting head of the Department of Livestock Production, said Viet Nam had about 4 million households that raised pigs and 7.5 million with poultry, calling for more support for households to develop sustainable production that could handle such market fluctuations.
Officials have suggested ways to reduce the cost of production such as mixing feed for cattle and poultry to reduce costs.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is looking at relevant agencies, people's committees and slaughterhouses to increase quarantine and preventative measures.
At least 119 patients in the country have tested positive for different strains of flu so far this year, according to the national flu supervision report. — VNS