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Cambodia poultry industry struggling

Rising costs, bird flu and knock-on effects from the global economic crisis are resulting in the closure of chicken farms across the nation.

Dozens of the county's chicken farmers say they have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as they are forced to shut down, reports The Phnom Penh Post.

Chuon Hout, owner of the Poung Peay chicken farm on the outskirts of the capital, is one of those affected chicken farmers. His business was hit badly by a combination of the global economic crisis and disease. He stated that at least 5 chicken farms in his village have closed - all for the same reasons.

"My business failed, and I lost my investment of more than US$9,000," he said. "My chickens all died from bird flu, and then the economic crisis hurt me further. I'm scared to continue in this business."

It is a similar story in Damnak Ampil village in Kandal. Farmers there said the high cost of buying and rearing birds had made the business unprofitable since selling prices are too low. Man Veasna lost $4,000 on his chicken farm, and said 25 other farms in the village had gone bust.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) said it did not have statistics on the number of farms that have gone bust.

"We only know that there are 237 chicken farms breeding the birds for meat, and 45 farming them for eggs. We don't know how many people they employ," said Sar Sochetra, the office manager in MAFF's department of animal health and production Sar Sochetra said meat-raising farms have about 2 mln chickens, while egg-raising farms have about one-tenth of that number.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said he is concerned that some bankrupt farmers have borrowed money from banks, while others have sold land to raise the capital. The result is that some have been thrown into poverty, he said. Chan Sophal blamed a combination of low demand, low retail prices and high input costs.

Damnak Ampil Commune Chief Sy Nuon said 50 chicken farms with 4,000 birds each had closed in his commune since October when the effects of the global economic crisis started to drive down selling prices.

Source: The Phnom Penh Post

Natalie Berkhout

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