Authorities actively policing illegal pork imports over Pi Mai Lao

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Livestock and Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has urged officials posted along the Chinese and Vietnamese borders to stringently inspect for illegal pig and pork imports during Lao New Year.

The holiday period is an important event and requires steady pork supplies and, consequently, transgressors may try to bring in illegal products.

“We have banned the import of pigs and pork products from China and Vietnam until these countries are declared free from the African Swine Fever outbreak,” Livestock and Fisheries Department Director General Mr Somphanh Chanphengxy told Vientiane Times yesterday.

If border crossing inspectors find such products from China or Vietnam, they will be confiscated in accordance with the law.

“During this period we are not concerned about a lack of pig and pork imports because Lao farmers can meet the demand,” he said.

Many domestic pig breeders, especially in Vientiane, want to sell more pigs but there is a lack of buyers, Mr Somphanh said.

Livestock and fisheries authorities are ensuring the suspension of pig and pork imports from China and Vietnam will not have an adverse impact on domestic consumption patterns in Laos.

Domestic production of pork and piglets is sufficient for local consumption and there is even a surplus in Vientiane so the meat can be supplied to other provinces.

The price of pork is in line with the benchmark set by the authorities, with good quality pork retailing for 35,000-36,000 kip a kilogram.

Pig farmers will use the ban as an opportunity to promote local production and reduce foreign competition.

Despite the government’s ban on pig and pork imports in recent months, authorities have confiscated pig entrails illegally imported from Vietnam and China.

More than 350 kg of pig entrails were seized at the Lalai checkpoint at the border between Saravan province and Thua Thien Heu province in Vietnam, and 62kg of pork products was seized in Phongsaly province after being illegally imported from China.

Small amounts of illegally imported pork have also been found at border crossings but this has been for personal consumption only, with the offenders let off with a warning and the items confiscated.