IPSARD Interview: Situation of smallholder livestock producers and support measures

Below, a ‘Voice of Vietnam’ reporter interviews Professor Dr. Tran Dinh Long, deputy director of Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) about the present situation of smallholder pig production in Vietnam and some solutions.

At present, pig production in Vietnam is principally household-based. Smallholder producers supply about 85%-90% volume of pork consumption. The small remainder is supplied by commercial farms and import pork. This demonstrates that small and medium-scale production still plays an important role in our economy. However, frequent outbreaks of diseases, continued increase of feed price, higher banks’ interest rates in combination with decreased output price and the influx of foreign meat with competitive pricing puts farmers in great difficulty.

Reporter: Professor, small and medium scale farms plays an important role in livestock production. But, they presently face difficulties. Can you let us know the situation of small and medium scale livestock production, at present.

Prof, Dr. Tran Dinh Long: Agriculture is generally a difficult industry. In the past several years, agriculture has overcome many difficulties and succeeded in international integration, structural transformation and industrialization and modernization in agriculture and rural development. However, with increasing development pressure, especially in international integration, agriculture in general and livestock production in particular face with serious difficulties and challenges. Particularly, in livestock sector, import tariff has decreased in the aftermath of WTO accession, influencing livestock production. In livestock production, farmers have traditionally raised livestock to make use of leftover food and crop byproducts. Industrialization in livestock production is not yet developed and profit/loss accounting is not clearly documented. But observation indicates that there are problems in livestock productions, profitability is not high. With small scale in the current context, a small change in market could also generate huge impact and might hurt livestock farmers, because smallholder farmers are constrained in capital and resources. The most critical constraint is capital for production, if farmers want to expand production scale. With resource constraints, farmers are unable to adopt new breed, new technologies in production and disease prevention. While prices of input, such as feed and stock, are high, output price is not high. If farmers are not careful in their production accounting and making decision, they will suffer loss. Farmers do not often see that. They do not take their family labor into account and consider return to labor as profit. But it is not. In addition, risks of diseases are always there. Though smallholder farmers have attempted to avoid diseases, but due to small scale and their attitude to disease prevention, disease is still a serious threat.

Reporter: Sir, what solutions you think can alleviate the difficulties of small and medium scale producers?

Prof, Dr. Tran Dinh Long: In livestock sector, producers are mainly smallholder farmers, accounting for 70%. Large farmers are not popular. Thus, small and medium scale producers are very important. However, they mainly produce livestock in traditional ways. A small change in market condition might lead them to difficult situation, especially for poor farmers. We think that there are some solutions:

  • Even though they are small, farmers need to have good attitude towards disease prevention and regularly apply veterinary treatment in livestock production. Good attitude should be widely educated
  • Farmers need to be provided with capital. There should be credit support programs that assist poor farmers to access credit
  • Provision of high quality input such as feed and breed and veterinary service at lower price
  • Institutional forms to unite farmers in organizations to expand production scale. When scale of production reaches certain level, farmers are capable of overcoming difficulties themselves
  • There must be planned zones for livestock production to avoid environmental issues. This also facilitates disease control
  • Ensure access to output markets. If markets are secured, farmers can overcome difficulties
  • Enhance the quality of Resolution 60. Livestock processors/retailers should cooperate to ensure market access to farmers.

Reporter: Can you tell more about the importance of linkages to smallholder production in Vietnam at present:

Prof, Dr. Tran Dinh Long: We should strengthen linkages between four actors: scientist, government, farmers and businessmen. If these linkages are maintained, livestock production would overcome any difficulty.

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