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Vietnam corn imports down 39% on year in March to 263,522 mt

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Vietnam corn imports down 39% on year in March to 263,522 mt

New Delhi — Vietnam's corn imports in March were 39% lower year on year at 263,522 mt, customs department data showed Wednesday.

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That meant imports dropped to 1.32 million mt in the first quarter, from 2.05 million mt a year ago.

Argentina and Brazil accounted for most of the imports, the data showed.

Feed demand from the pork industry, which accounts for bulk of corn consumption, has taken a hit due to African swine fever.

Vietnam first detected African swine fever in early 2019 and by December more than 5.9 million pigs -- 23% of the swine herd -- had been culled, according to the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service.

The country is still struggling to restock their herds due to financial constraints as well as fear of fresh outbreak of epidemic.

According to a USDA FAS estimate, the pig population in Vietnam is seen at 24 million-25 million in 2020, compared with 24.9 million in 2019 and 28.2 million in 2018.

The task of growing the pig herd is being hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

"There are concerns that COVID-19 containment efforts could result in depletion of human/financial resources for ASF-affected pig farmers, slowdowns in herd restocking, and disruptions to the livestock movement, transport, distribution, and trade, which might further stall a hoped-for recovery for the pig industry," the USDA FAS said.

"Despite the slower spread of ASF, we expect a further 12% year on year decline in 2020 total herd," Rabobank said in a report.

Vietnam's corn demand was seen falling 13.2% this year, while corn imports were seen dropping 17.9%, Rabobank said in the report.

Vietnam, one of the largest corn buyers in the world, imported 11.5 million mt in 2019, up 14%, according to the customs data.