Cambodia may be exporting as many as 20,000 live cattle per month to Vietnam, according to representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Sen Sovann, director-general of the Ministry of Agriculture’s general directorate of animal health and production, said Vietnam is the first market for Cambodian live cattle, while Thailand may come in as number two, but couldn’t confirm.
Mr Sovann was speaking during a meeting between government officials and private sector representatives to discuss cattle exports to Thailand
“We don’t have concrete figures, but according to Vietnam officials, about 20,000 live cattle are being imported from Cambodia to Vietnam every month,” Mr Sovann said.
“Thai companies and our department are currently holding talks to determine how many live cattle from Cambodia are sent to Thailand,” he explained.
The government is encouraging farmers to take on cattle farming, using traditional breeding techniques, to meet local demand for beef, Mr Sovann said.
“We asked farmers to raise cattle based on traditional techniques, feeding them grass. We want them to farm cattle for their meat, not to use them for farm work,” Mr Sovann said.
According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Cambodia produced 85,000 tonnes of beef and buffalo meat during the first ten months of the year.
3.2 million cows and buffalos are being raised by farmers across the country.
Mr Sovann said Cambodia is lagging behind its neighbors when it comes to cattle farming, and needs the private sector to invest in producing quality commercial feed and improving breeding techniques.
Chin Borey, a farmer in Tek Chhuk district in Kampot province currently raising eight cows, said the market price for cattle is on a downward trend due to the increasing number of farmers raising cattle for their meat.
“Their value is decreasing. I hope greater demand for our cows abroad will help drive prices up,” Mr Borey said.
Government-led projects in Kandal, Pursat, Takeo, Kampot, and Kampong Chhnang provinces are already helping to improve cattle farming in those areas, according to Mr Sovann.
“Cattle breeding centres will be established in those targeted provinces to distribute commercial cattle to farmers,” Mr Sovann said, adding that the centres will be built in cooperation with development partners.