SRAT urges more pork imports to curb prices
More pork imports are being mulled as another option to curb the problem of rapidly escalating pork prices, the Swine Raisers Association of Thailand (SRAT) says.
Niphat Nuanim, vice president of the SRAT, suggested this on Thursday as a temporary measure to ease the impact on consumers.
"But in doing so, the government would have to allow the SRAT to collect import fees to prevent an adverse effect on local pig farmers and the swine-farming system," Mr Niphat said.
Other temporary measures have been issued this week as the price crisis deepens.
They include a requirement that the following groups must update the Department of Internal Trade weekly on the number of pigs they own, or the size of their pork stock: swine farmers who own more than 500 pigs, pork wholesalers who keep over 500 pigs in stock, and operators of food-freezing businesses with over 5,000 kilogrammes of pork in stock.
Meanwhile, SRAT president Surachai Sutthitham has urged the government to speed up its campaign to develop a vaccine against African swine fever (ASF), which has wreaked havoc on farms across the country and caused a mass culling of domestic pigs.
"As over half of the regular pork supply has disappeared because more than 100,000 pig farmers have gone out of business, the most effective way to tackle the problem of high pork prices is to speed up efforts to develop a vaccine against African swine fever.
"They could also start bringing down the prices of raw materials used in producing pig feed," said Mr Surachai.
"Without this key support from the government, those medium- and small-sized pig farms won't be able to stay afloat."
He said the SRAT would put forward these proposals at a meeting today with the Department of Livestock Development (DLD).
Mr Niphat said it is proving a challenge to encourage pig farmers who have quit the business to re-enter it as they will need more support from livestock authorities amid the risk of another outbreak of ASF.
Many will also need financial support such as soft loans from government banks to start over, he said.
Thailand previously exported about 5% of its pork, he said.