Thailand's livestock industry is expected to see flat growth this year mainly due to anticipated shrinking consumption caused by the global economic crisis.
"Two-percent growth would be the best performance for the sector, but flat-growth is more likely," concedes Yukol Limlaemthong, director-general of the Agriculture Ministry Livestock Development Department.
The livestock industry, both for domestic consumption and exports, generated revenue estimated about 348 billion baht (€ 7.43b) in 2008. Exports, led by processed poultry, contributed about 100 billion baht of the total.
Apart from shrinking world consumption demand, the livestock industry is also facing high prices for animal feeds such as corn and soybeans.
According to Yukol, bleak prospects for the country's poultry shipments are also anticipated because of the world economic crisis, with exports expected to be valued about 40-45 billion baht (€ 854-961m) this year, unchanged from a year earlier, while pork exports are unlikely to see much change from 10,000 tons a year, mostly in processed products to Japan and elsewhere in Asia.
Shrinking demand and bird flu
"This year, farmers will have to adjust their production to cope with the shrinking demand, while epidemics remain another challenge for the industry that requires closer monitoring, as bird flu has re-emerged as a threat, after China recently reported it had killed a woman in Beijing and neighboring Vietnam.”
The cases, the first involving humans in nearly a year, mark the reappearance of the H5N1 virus as Asia moves into the cold winter months that favor the spread of the virus.
"We are strongly committed to wiping out bird flu in the risk areas, notably in the lower northern areas this year," says Yukol. (jr)