Australia's live animal export industry has taken a new turn, with the first ever shipment of buffalo heading to Vietnam from the Northern Territory (NT).

Minister for Primary Industries Willem Westra Van Holthe told reporters on February 11 that the NT is currently the only Australian jurisdiction exporting buffalo.

The first shipment of 222 domesticated buffalo will be followed by another 600 next week and 1,500 more in April, he said, adding that Australian officials will travel to Vietnam in a fortnight to inspect animal welfare conditions.

Vietnam is the second largest importer of NT cattle after Indonesia, but has never imported buffalo until now.

Dean Ryan, commercial manager for South-East Asia Livestock Services, said the export of cattle to Vietnam could be worth up to 20 million AUD (18 million USD) this year, with the possibility of 10,000 to 20,000 animals being shipped.

The livestock industry is an important part of the Australian Government's plan to develop the NT into the "food bowl of Asia".-VNA