Without timely measures, there will be a shortage of pork on the domestic market this year, warns the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

With blue ear disease continuing to affect swine herds nationwide, as well as economic difficulties, many consumers are turning their backs on pork, causing a progressive price reduction in the market.

As a result, more farmers have stopped breeding pigs in their localities, said Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy director of the Livestock Farming Department.

According to the northern Bac Giang Province's agriculture and rural development department, unprocessed pork costs between 32,000 – 33,000 VND (or 1.5 USD) per kg. Despite this cheap price, it is still hard to find buyers, said a local agriculture official, adding that thousands of farmers worried about their futures, while many are starting to leave their pig cages empty.

Deputy director Son said though avian influenza and foot and mouth disease are temporary controlled, the persistent blue ear disease since this February have been affecting consumers and directly harming the industry.

According to the Epidemiological Department, until last week, the disease was reported in the provinces of Dien Bien, Bac Ninh, Quang Ninh, Lai Chau, Hoa Binh, Lang Son, Bac Lieu and Dong Nai.

The department calculated there were over 33,000 pigs infected with the disease including 21,000 pigs destroyed in the first six months. Compared with the same term last year, it's an increase of 2.5 times.

Son said without close monitoring, blue ear disease will spread to 13 provinces throughout the Mekong River Delta.

Besides, chicken breeding also met a lot of difficulties.

Nguyen Van Sau, a chicken breeder living in Hanoi's Ba Vi District, said at present the wholesale chicken price was 24,000 VND (1.14 USD) per kilo whereas the expenses for breeding them was 32,000 VND (1.52 VNA) per kilo. The result is that he suffers a loss of 8,000 VND (0.4 USD) per kilo.

"In the past ten years I have never suffered such a great loss," said Sau.

MARD deputy minister Diep Kinh Tan said "if this problem is not handled well, in the next four months, we shall lack the meat that is now in excess."

As the disease shows no sign of stopping, and is even spreading to the south, stamping it out is the priority of the agriculture sector, said Hoang Van Nam, director of the Animal Health department.

Nam said the disease has spread as transportation from infected areas has not been strictly controlled. Thus, Nam 's department will work with the inspectors to boost the inspection of not only transportation, but also of the slaughter houses.

MARD's deputy Tan said his ministry is preparing to hold an online conference with key breeding areas later this month for a clearer review of the problem and determining a good solution.

Son said his department, under the assignment of MARD, is planning a solution to help the industry. The scheme could include an aid of 9 trillion VND (428 million USD) in support given to farmers as very low interest rate loans.

However, Son said the plan is only on paper as of now and nothing yet done to support the farmers.

MARD's deputy minister Vu Van Tam said the ministry is also working with other ministries and banks to determine proper measures for the coming time.

"However, we should be careful when making policies for breeders and enterprises so as to not violate international regulations and the Government's macroscopic policies," he said.

The key measure is helping breeders approach the capital, said Tam.

Traditionally, pork is a kind of food that cannot be missed during the year end festivals when the price often rises to troubling heights for consumers.-VNA