Vietnam is still transporting live chicken and chicken breeders to and fro China across the border, which is considered unofficial import-export activities.
According to the Department of Animal Health, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, officially importing Chinese chicken will allow Vietnam to better control bird diseases and epidemics.
Under the program, the department will have to ensure the poultry from the Chinese side are safe for imports, and the agriculture ministry is responsible for issuing the official decision to bring the chicken home.
While necessary steps are being taken to officially implement the chicken import plan, chicken prices in the southern province of Dong Nai, the country’s largest poultry raising farm, fell to only VND23,000 a kg (US$1) on May 13, bringing losses for local farmers.
“The slumping prices indicate that there is a surplus supply of domestic chickens, so why we have to import more from China?” the director of a Dong Nai-based husbandry firm said.
Nguyen Thanh Phi Long, the technical manager of Long Binh, another husbandry company in Dong Nai, said it is “an unnecessary and unreasonable proposal” to importing Chinese chicken when local firms sometimes have to destroy their unsold stocks.
Bui Thanh Liem, head of sales of Minh Du, a chicken breed supplier based in the south-central province of Binh Dinh, said if Vietnam wants to improve the quality of poultry breeds, it should import world-renowned chicken from the US or France, rather from China.
An official from the Dong Nai’s husbandry association said the Chinese chicken import will do harm to Vietnam’s husbandry sector as domestic breed supply is enough to meet demand.
It is also illogical to import Chinese chicken as the cost to raise the poultry in China is higher than in Vietnam, according to industry insiders.
But the biggest concern is the imports will bring more diseases and epidemic to Vietnam, with China known as the origin country of many of the world’s new bird flu viruses. Brining chicken breeds from such a country to Vietnam is therefore an incautious and dangerous move, according to experts.
Tran Duy Khanh, general secretary of the Vietnam Poultry Association, said all of the world’s best chicken breeds have already been available in Vietnam. “China is not a source of good breeds,” he pressed.
Khanh said the agriculture ministry should make it clear as to why it wants to import Chinese chicken.
“Has the ministry set up technical barriers to protect local breeders and consumers with such a decision?” he questioned.