Vietnam’s livestock industry should be restructured in a sustainable and competitive manner over the next two years, an official from Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Livestock Production said at a conference held in the city on May 31.

Do Huu Phuong, head of the department's representative office, said a shift from small-scale household breeding to large-scale farming will enable farmers to supply products that meet export requirements.

Large-scale animal farms typically use advanced scientific technology for hybrid development, fodder production and farming, he said.

Animal husbandry in Vietnam, however, is characterised by small-scale, scattered farms.

Phuong said that in 2011, about 77 percent of pig farms in the country and 88 percent of chicken farms were small scale.

Farms should be restructured, he said, so that productivity and quality could be improved. Protecting the environment and preventing diseases are two other objectives, he added.

He said that the proportion of pork and poultry of total meat consumed in Vietnam was 74 percent and 17.1 percent in 2012, respectively.

A policy to address this imbalance in consumption should be developed by the government, he said, adding that in the future, the livestock industry should focus on improving the quality, rather than quantity of pork.

At the same time, the poultry population should be increased, he said.

In areas where there is a high animal husbandry density, such as the Mekong Delta region and urban areas, the livestock sector needs to be restructured, he said. And it should be expanded in the Central Highlands and northern mountainous provinces.

In 2011, the number of livestock farms in the Red River Delta accounted for 38.7 percent of all farms in the country, while there were only 5.8 percent in the Central Highlands region.

Vietnamese farmers, Phuong said, should also improve animal productivity through breeding, feeding and cages.

Currently, in Vietnam a sow can produce 18 pigs per year, while in Thailand it is 25-26 pigs per year.

Although the domestic livestock industry has faced challenges, there is great potential in the future, Phuong noted.

He said that favorable government policies are needed to support animal-husbandry enterprises so they can have sufficient capital and engage in technology transfer.

Despite economic crises, Vietnam 's livestock sector has maintained an average growth rate of 5-6 percent per year, ensuring local consumption demand.

The country’s pork output is ranked first in Southeast Asia (42.2 percent), second in Asia, and sixth worldwide, after China, the US, Spain, Brazil, and Germany.

Vietnam's animal-feed output ranks first among ASEAN countries.-VNA