Farmers suffer as chicken prices drop to 10-year low

Farmers are hit hard as chicken prices drop to 10-year low in southern Vietnam, with the African swine fever prompting a livestock switch.

Prices of factory-farm chicken have fallen to around VND13,000 (56 cents) per kilogram in recent days in Dong Nai Province, just half the cost of raising them.

Phong, a farmer in Dong Nai, said that he lost has over VND1 billion ($43,100) after selling 30,000 chicken at the price of VND12,000 (52 cents) per kilogram, while the cost of raising them is twice as much at VND26,000 per kilogram.

"If this trend continues until the end of the year, I might not have enough capital to raise a new batch."

A similar trend can be seen in other southern provinces. Le Van Quyet, deputy chairman of the Livestock Breeding Association in the southeast region, said that most farmers were losing money, some up to VND10 billion ($431,000) from their latest crop.

He said that the reason for the price drop was a domestic supply surge as many farmers switched from raising pigs to chicken because of the African swine fever, the disease that has now spread to all localities in the country since it was first discovered in February.

According to official figures, the number of chicken in Dong Nai reached 24.8 million this month, up 16.8 percent from April, when African swine fever was discovered in the province.

Quyet also said that with chicken prices going up to VND40,000 ($1.72) per kilogram, many farmers were motivated to raise them.

Head of Dong Nai’s Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department, Tran Van Quang, said that millions of poultry units have been added in recent months and some chicken farms have expanded in scale.

Quyet said: "If this trend persists, some businesses might go bankrupt."

Other industry insiders said that the increasing import of low-priced chicken was another reason for lower domestic prices.

Vietnam imported 142,190 tonnes of chicken worth $120 million or VND19,500 (84 cents) per kilogram in the first half of this year.

The U.S. was the largest import market, accounting for 44 percent of total volume. Imported U.S. chicken was priced just VND22,420 (97 cents) per kilogram, lower than some domestic products.

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