Agricultural Vietnam relies on imports to feed livestock sector

By Ha Phuong   September 5, 2016 | 03:29 pm PT
“Vietnam is an agricultural nation, but feed for pigs and chickens must be imported.”

During the first seven months of this year, Vietnam spent $1.8 billion on animal feed imports, the equivalent of 40 percent of the country's revenue from rice exports, data from Vietnam Customs showed. That figure hit $2 billion in August, and shows no signs of slowing. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts that nearly half of Vietnam's animal feed will be imported this year. 

In recent years, approximately 45 percent of Vietnam's demand for animal feed has been met by imports of soybean meal, corn and wheat. Local sources mostly provide bran rice and cassava.

“Vietnam is an agricultural nation, but feed for pigs and chickens must be imported,” said Le Ba Lich, chairman of the Vietnam Breeding Association..

Most of Vietnam's imported animal feed comes from Argentina, accounting for 45 percent of the total value, followed by China and the U.S.

Vietnam has been looking to expand its corn and soybean plantations to minimize its reliance on imports since 2015. In March 2015, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development approved three genetically modified corn varieties for commercial planting, which were then planted a month later, making Vietnam the 29th country in the world to commercialize a biotech crop. However, local corn production still faces challenges from competitive prices offered by India, Argentina and Brazil.

Experts said that Vietnam does not have the best conditions for cultivating animal feed crops like corn, wheat and soybean, and emphasized that Vietnam's livestock sector is facing many challenges due to market competition in the context of international integration.

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