Impact of the use of exotic compared to local pig breeds on socio-economic development and biodiversity in Vietnam.
39 Seiten, 5 Tabellen.
Verlag E. Grauer, Beuren, Stuttgart ISBN 3-86186-496-7
Vietnam owns a considerable variety of local pig breeds. The introduction of pigs and breeds from neighbouring countries (Laos, Cambodia, China) started probably centuries ago, as part of human migration (e.g. Thai and H’mong migrating from China), occupation (China), and trade. The influx of breeds was an important component in the development of Vietnamese local breeds. However, information is lacking on those early phases. The earliest confirmed information on pig breed introduction goes back to the 1920s.
Gene flow in the recent past and present has probably been a net inflow of pigs. Exports (e.g. Vietnamese potbellied pigs to western countries as pets and for scientific use) were negligible. Before 1955 (end of French colonisation) and after 1986 (economic liberalisation), pig imports were directed by commercial interests as the main driving force of gene flow. From 1955 until 1986 the major driving force was the policies of the socialist government, and after 1990 additionally foreign developmental projects, both with the declared aim to benefit the poor farmers, but not always fulfilling their claim.
The inflow of pig breeds to Vietnam consisted of higher-yielding breeds from Europe and America, which were introduced due to their higher performances (in the countries of origin) to improve or replace the low yielding local breeds. Commercial imports consisted of exotic pigs. Current development and poverty alleviation projects at village level usually promote exotics, and only occasionally improved Vietnamese breeds (e.g. promotion of Mong Cai by Vétérinaires sans frontières, Phu Tho).
Information on pig gene flow to and within Vietnam is limited, due to the restricted information policy of both international breeding companies and Vietnamese official sources, but also due to the decentralised nature of pig breed import and distribution. The introduction of exotic pigs was supported by the decentralised nature of the Vietnamese breeding system. Centralised coordination of breeding measures is not well developed, and centralised measures fulfilled their aims only partly. However, the impact of the state-run breeding stations has been considerable; and the advanced use of AI has strongly supported the introduction of exotic genetics to the smallholder producer level.
The influx of exotic breeds has positively influenced output and efficiency of pork production in Vietnam, while the local pig populations have been reduced. Today, pigs of various crossbreeding degrees are widely distributed. Most indigenous breeds show declining population trends, and the majority of local breeds are in a vulnerable or critical condition or even facing extinction. Conservation measures of Vietnamese institutions follow suitable approaches (in-situ conservation on-farm). However, due to shortcomings in set-up and implementation, they may not successfully preserve local pig breeds. National decisions and the willingness to pay for conservation programs depend on expectations for future benefits, which need to be based on scientific proofs of the value of specific traits, and market-backed valuations of products.
Research results indicate a considerable production potential of local pig breeds especially under low-input conditions, favourable adaptation traits, and genetic peculiarities, differentiating them from the European breeds. Local pig breeds are a significant component of the Vietnamese and worldwide biodiversity, are important for resource-poor farmers in Vietnam who depend on local breeds to ensure their livelihoods, and for future breeding measures utilising e.g. favourable adaptation traits. On the other hand, exotic pigs have become increasingly available and accessible for farmers in Vietnam and have enabled them to produce pork with increasing efficiency. Whether pig-keeping resource-poor smallholders in remote and mountainous regions can be integrated in this process, or if they can set up niche production with local pig breeds, remains to be clarified by further investigations. Further investigations are required to define local pig breeds, further characterise their genetic specificities, and to comparatively evaluate their performances under standardised conditions.