(Bloomberg) -- Vietnam is allowing imports of live pigs for slaughter for the first time as the country grapples with record prices of hogs and pork because of a resurgence of African swine fever, according to the agriculture ministry.

The Southeast Asian country has already increased imports of breeding sows and frozen pork in a bid to cool prices of the staple food for its population of more than 90 million. The wholesale cost of live hogs reached an all-time high of 103,000 dong ($4.42) a kilogram last week, threatening to fuel inflation.

“Prices have surged because of the scarcity of young sows after swine fever devastated herds last year,” said Nguyen Kim Doan, vice chairman of the Animal Production Association in Dong Nai province, the center of the industry. The ministry estimates sow numbers fell by more than 1.2 million last year.

The nation has culled almost 4,000 pigs this year as virus outbreaks recurred in 155 communes in 20 provinces and cities, including the capital Hanoi. Infections reappeared among animals in small households mostly with the spread driven by quick sales and slaughter of sickened pigs, the agriculture ministry was cited by the Thanh Nien newspaper as saying on Wednesday.

The ministry didn’t specify how many live pigs for slaughter the country will buy and when shipments will begin. Imported hogs will be subject to a 30-day quarantine, according to the ministry post on the government website. Companies have registered to import more than 110,000 breeding pigs this year to help rebuild herds and ensure sufficient supplies through 2024.

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