ILRI field trip to potential LIFSAP project sites in Nghe An province

On October 8th, 2010, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), with support from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nghe An (DARD Nghe An) and the Office of LIFSAP project in Nghe An (LIFSAP PPMU Nghe An), conducted a filed visit to potential LIFSAP project sites in Nam Dan and Do Luong districts in Nghe An.

The objectives of the trip were to observe open markets, slaughterhouses, and some pig producers in these areas to get a sense of pig sector development therein, and to follow up on earlier discussions about potential collaboration with a LIFSAP project in Nghe An. The team was led by Dr. Steve Staal, director of Market Opportunities Research Theme at ILRI and includes researchers and officers from ILRI (Dr. Karl Rich, Dr. Lucy Lapar, Dr. Solene Costard, Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Toan, Mr. Pham Duc Thanh) and Oxfam Hong Kong (Ms. Truong Thanh Mai).

Before going to the sites, the group had a meeting with DARD Nghe An and Nghe An LIFSAP PPMU, particularly Dr. Vi Luu Binh, deputy director of DARD Nghe An and director of LIFSAP PPMU. The purpose was to give a brief introduction of the team members and the objectives of the field trip and to receive updates about the design and implementation of LIFSAP project in Nghe An.

Nghe An is one of the 12 provinces under second phase of LIFSAP project. In the first phase commencing from 2010, the project is implemented in 4 provinces. The project will then be expanded to 12 provinces in the second phase (2011). In preparation for the project, Nghe An has established project steering committee, management board and staff and will recruit two consultants soon. The province has also approved funds for the designs of the to-be-upgraded slaughterhouses and markets and the overall plan for project implementation. Dr. Binh, however, highlighted some difficulties in implementing LIFSAP project, such as the inconsistencies among project guidelines and the low level of financial support in upgrading slaughterhouses and implementing good animal husbandry practices (VIETGAHP). While these activities require investment from farmers, it is not clear the financial benefits they could reap from them.

Day Activities

1. Visit open markets, slaughterhouse and smallholder pig producers in Do Luong district

In Nam Dan district, the team was guided by Mr. Nguyen Huu Nhuan, Head of sub-DARD Nam Dan. We visited two open markets, a slaughterhouse and two pig producers.

Open markets

LIFSAP project plans to upgrade facilities in selected open markets, including floor, roof, carcass cutting and retailing tables, and sewage and waste management systems. Specific upgrading depends on the current status of each market.

The team visited Chua market (Nam Anh Commune) and Xuan Hong market (Xuan Hong Commune). The former operates in the afternoon and the latter in the morning. In these markets, LIFSAP project plans to upgrade market floor and roof, replace wooden tables by stainless steel ones, provides pork retailers with hangers to hang carcass, build drainage system and biogas tank for waste treatment instead. Presently, waste are gathered and burnt in a designated brick tank. Retailers will contribute partially to the investment through paying higher fee after the accomplishment of the upgradation. The amount of increased fee is not yet decided but it should be reasonable to retailers. Currently, costs of pork retailers to maintain an area of 6m2 in the markets include:

  • 7,000,000 VND ($368) for 5 year rent, equivalent to $6.1 per month
  • 1,000 VND per day for cleaning service, equivalent to $1.6 per month
  • 100,000 VND per year for license tax, equivalent to $0.4 per month
  • In total, the cost is $8.1 per month

Pork retailers usually go to slaughterhouses to get carcass. There are two slaughterhouses in the area and each retailer regularly goes to one. In response to consumer preference to lean pork, retailer select carcass with highest lean content available at the time of selection. Early comers at slaughterhouses are likely to be able to choose higher lean carcasses.


The team visited a slaughterhouse planned to be moved farther away from residential area and rebuilt under LIFSAP project. The loss relating to the close of the current slaughterhouse is compensated. The project intends to equip the slaughterhouse with ceramic-tiled floor, carcass hangers, and waste management system (biogas tank). However, slaughterhouse owner must cover three thirds of the cost.

The slaughterhouse owner does not purchase live pigs or slaughter pigs. Instead, he leases facilities at the slaughterhouse, provide services to pig traders/butchers and charge them a fee of 10,000 VND ($0.53)/pig head slaughtered. Those traders/butchers purchase pigs from farmers, bring them to the slaughterhouse, put them in designated pig pens and slaughter them. There are presently 20 traders, each slaughters from 2 to 7 pigs per day. Pigs slaughtered are often from 50-60kg liveweight.

There is a veterinary inspector at the slaughterhouse to ensure live pigs slaughtered and carcasses sold have no problem with pig diseases by visual check both the appearance of live pigs and internal organs of slaughtered pigs.

Currently, waste is thrown to a pond behind the slaughterhouse and the pond is cleaned periodically, about every 6 months. No treatment is applied to the waste.

Smallholder pig producers

The team visited two pig producers:

  • First producers: full cycle producer
    • Raise a Mong Cai sow and a cross-bred sow (between the Mong Cai sow and an unknown breed boar). The Mong Cai sow was purchased from a farmers in another district. Sow was selected through visual appearance (equally developed breast, straight legs, etc)
    • Breeding is made through nature mating with boars in neighboring farms
    • Feed: predominantly own-produced and purchased raw feed (rice, maize).. Concentrated feed is used to mix with raw feed for piglets of certain ages. Own produced morning glory and sweet potato leaves/vines are used as green feed
    • Marketing: call pig traders to come and pickup pigs at farm
    • Other income source:
      • Crop production
      • Transportation service (the household has a truck for providing transportation service)
      • It is not clear which source provides largest income share
  • Second producers: fattener
    • 5 cross-bred growers purchased from a neighboring farm
    • Feed: Make use of by-product from alcohol production. Concentrated feed is used to mix with other feed with limited amount (4 bags of feed for 5 pigs in from weanling to slaughter hog). No green feed is used (they use their land for rice production and there is no land for green feed production)

2. Visit open markets, slaughterhouse and smallholder pig producers in Do Luong district

In Do Luong district, the team was guided by Mr. Nhung, deputy director of sub-DARD, Do Luong district. The team visited a slaughterhouse, an open market and three pig producers in Thuong Son commune.


Both cattle and pigs are slaughtered at the slaughterhouse. However, pig slaughtering is temporarily ceased following the outbreak of PRRS disease (blue ear) that have killed 6 pigs in 3 households. The next commune has lost 400 pigs due to PRRS. The slaughterhouse will be open for pork slaughter again if no new case of PRRS is found during 20 days since the last incidence.

When pigs stop eating and get high temperature, veterinary officer will take samples to send to lab for identifying causes. Pigs in suspected farms are not allowed to slaughtered or transported out until there is results of sample analysis. Pigs in PRRS affected areas are segregated and those pig affected must be buried.

There are two scenarios that the LIFSAP project can choose with the upgradation of the slaughterhouse:

  • Keep the current slaughterhouse and upgrade facilities and build waste treatment system. This is preferred by DARD and agreed by Mr. Phong of LIFSAP PCU. The final decision will, however, be from World Bank since the current location does not meet project’s criteria of distance to residential area (at least 1 km away)
  • Move the slaughterhouse to another place that is far from residential area

Open market

The LIFSAP project plans to upgrade roof and floor of the market, replace wooden tables with stainless steel tables and provide carcass hangers to retailers. Currently, the market has cement floor in pork retailing area but the aisle is just bare ground.

Pig producers.

  • First producer: full cycle producer
    • A quite large producer with around 70-80 slaughter pigs and 7 sows. However, due to PRRS, sows were death and buried and the household temporarily keep only few slaughter pigs
    • Breed: slaughter pigs are cross-bred. Sows were purchased from other pig producers and selected through visual observation: straight legs, 14 even breasts
    • Feed: The household runs a rice mill, which provides them with low-cost raw feed for pig production. No green feed is used
    • Marketing: the household knows 5 large traders in another district. They call the traders when they want to sell pigs and negotiate and choose traders with best price. Price received is higher than prevailing price in the area (probably due to higher quality of pig). The pigs are pickup at farm gate, transported by trucks to China and other provinces
  • Second producer
    • Also a quite large farm
    • Feed: the household also runs a rice mill so they can reduce raw feed cost
    • Sweet potato vines and morning glory are used as green feed.
  • Third producer: a piglet and full cycle producer
    • One small Mong Cai sow with low productivity (liter size is about 5)
    • Piglets are sold but one is kept to be raised to finisher.

3. Some observations from the field visits

  • Pig producers purchase piglets and sows from neighboring farms. These inputs are selected based on some visual criteria, which are probably created from conventional experience. Pig producers often do not know about exact breeds of pigs. Qualified piglet/sow suppliers are either not known to or too far from pig producers. Improving access to qualified input stock will enhance productivity and reduce transmission of diseases
  • Most pig producers visited have exploited their low cost advantage in feeding by using high proportion of own-produced feed (green feed, by-product from alcohol production or rice mill
  • Pig disease (particularly PRRS) is a problem in one of the LIFSAP site and is a threat the pig production. The segregation and control of disease sound good, but it is unclear to us whether these measures are well enforced and effective in practice
  • A potential obstacle in the implementation of LIFSAP project is the cost – benefit consideration of facility upgradation and/or adoption of good practices. Since LIFSAP project merely provide partial support over investment cost (25%), the “beneficiary” might be reluctant to change, since the changes can hardly raise their profit due to the fact that consumers often cannot distinguish between pork from different supply chains
  • Currently, waste treatment system at slaughterhouses and markets is non-existent or poor. The LIFSAP project plan to improve this, but only in few selected places. Waste in other places remains an environmental issue.

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