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HEAL ▶▶▶TH


“ASF accelerated developments in Vietnam’s pig industry”


ASF entered Vietnam 15 months ago, aggravating a crisis that had started in the pig industry in 2018. In a few years, the pig business will look completely different, according to Gabor Fluit, CEO Asia at animal nutrition company De Heus.


BY VINCENT TER BEEK, EDITOR, PIG PROGRESS G


abor Fluit has been working for the Asian branch of animal nutrition company De Heus since 2008. Soon after, the company made its first steps into Vietnam. Fluit observed ASF entering Vietnam


from February 2019, and it had infected all 63 provinces in the country by mid-August. Officially, 6 million pigs have fallen victim.


Pig Progress: How many pigs have been lost to ASF in Viet nam, according to your estimates? Gabor Fluit: “It is not clear how many pigs there were before it all started. And most certainly not everything has been re- ported. For some time, there was no incentive for pig farmers to report an occurrence of ASF, like in many other countries in Asia. In the beginning, there were funds to compensate farmers, but those disappeared at some point.”


ASF came on top of an earlier crisis. What happened? “The year 2016 was a top year in terms of production. Viet- nam had enormous numbers of live pigs, of which some were transported to China. That was a consequence of the years 2014–2015, when the Vietnamese authorities stimulated the purchase of animals. Some say that there might have been 4 million sows in Vietnam at that time. “In the year 2017 China closed its borders, due to growing concerns in terms of food safety. From then on, only meat im- ports were allowed, by companies that had first slaughtered and processed the animals. That was the first big setback, and prices dropped heavily. Fast forward to mid-2018. Integra- tions continued despite low prices. Small backyard farms, however, were leaving the pig business. It probably caused an initial hit on the total market of at least 10%.”


And then ASF was still coming “After 1.5 years of bad prices, the next huge setback followed:


ASF. For many smaller farmers it was the final blow, and in some cases larger farms also had severe difficulties.”


How did you notice at De Heus in Vietnam? “In terms of feed, there were about 11.5 to 12 million tonnes of pig feed in the entire market in Vietnam in 2018. In 2019, it was perhaps 30% less than in 2018 and then the total ended up being around 8–8.5 million tonnes of pig feed. The really bad blow followed in the second half of the year. I think now, after ASF, less than 60% of the sow population remains com- pared to 2016. The remaining sows are relatively more pro- ductive, so the total number of pigs produced has not fallen as much as the sow population.” My estimation is that one third of the drop was caused by the 2017 China crisis and two thirds of the drop was caused by ASF.”


How has ASF changed the pig industry in Vietnam? “ASF has accelerated developments a lot. Stricter requirements have been put in place and there is more demand for good pig genetics, more automation and fewer people that need to be on-farm. Many things that would have happened eventual- ly have been modernised and implemented more rapidly.”


Has ASF created a new reality? “I am afraid we will not get rid of the ASF virus again. It will just be like FMD or PRRS, just one of those viruses we will have to learn to live with, until a vaccine is developed. This will be the start of super-strict biosecurity measures. We will have to accept that once in a while an infection will occur.”


This text is a summary of an interview published at www.pig- progress.net. The article also contains an audio fragment in which Gabor Fluit explains how Covid-19 has accelerated pork sales in Vietnam.


▶PIG PROGRESS | Volume 36, No. 4, 2020 13


Gabor Fluit, CEO Asia, De Heus.


PHOTO: DE HEUS


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