The Fiji Pig Association continues to work with Government to address a growing crisis in the industry as subsidized pork products, processed in Australia, continue to flow into the country.
The Association has reported up to a 40% reduced demand for pigs from some farms in the first three months of 2013 reflecting saturation in the market caused by the imports.
“Unfortunately this downward trend will continue. The Canadian and European subsidized processed pork products are selling at wholesale below the best price our unsubsidized industry can offer and this is seriously affecting the market and all the farmers big and small,” said Simon Cole, Association President.
A further indication of the negative effect the subsidized imports are having on the industry is the decision by the Fiji Meat Industry Board (FMIB) to stop purchasing pigs from their small farmers for the present because of oversupply.
“For many of these farmers the FMIB outlet is the market of last resort, if they lose the FMIB, they could very well go out of business,” he said.
“Instead of investing and growing our farms, as we have been over the last few years, we are now downsizing. The smaller farmers really have no options and some will be in serious trouble if nothing is done soon. Once these farmers leave the industry they are unlikely to return given the investment required.”
He said that after reviewing options in consultation with industry partners Fiji Meat Industry Board, Fiji Master Butchers Association and the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC) it was decided that there is no alternative but to ask Government to impose a 32% duty on all imported pork products similar to duty that now protects Fiji’s chicken industry.
“Our meetings with the Ministry of Primary Industries have been productive and we believe they are sympathetic. We are grateful for their support,” said Mr. Cole.
Mr. Cole said that historically Fiji’s pig industry supplied 80% of all requirements, ensuring food security in pork and helping to protect foreign reserves by producing and value-adding locally. The estimated value, according to a recent EU report, is about $32 million to the country in 2012. To achieve these results the industry has invested over $16 million.
“But without protection, this would all disappear.”