President Rodrigo Duterte has approved an increase in financial assistance given to backyard raisers affected by the African swine fever (ASF), from P3,000 to P5,000 per head culled, as the meat processing industry warned that they may lose up to P18 billion in sales during the coming holiday season.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the President and Cabinet members also approved other measures to contain and prevent the spread of ASF during their Oct. 11 meeting.
These include imposition of “lock down” procedures in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga, cordoning validated areas as “ASF-infected zones,” for easier movement control of pigs and pork products; and apprehension and filing of cases against hog raisers and traders caught selling or buying and transporting live hogs, slaughtering ASF-infected pigs and selling ASF-tainted pork products.
Dar earlier appealed to traders not to buy ASF-affected hogs, and to backyard raisers not to sell ASF afflicted pigs. He warned them that these malpractices are punishable by law.
“We must step up our surveillance and monitoring of transport of live pigs as well as pork products,” Dar said.
ASF poses no threat to human health, although it is very infectious among pigs, and can easily spread from one farm to another if not properly managed. The disease has no known vaccine yet.
Aside from the newly-approved measures, the Department strictly enforced biosecurity measures and the 1-7-10 protocol in ASF-affected areas, in tandem with local government units, the military, police, swine industry groups and other government agencies as part of their combined efforts to effectively manage, control and contain ASF.
These include frequent cleaning and disinfection of farms, transport vehicles, and improved husbandry practices and production systems such as prohibition on swill feeding.
Consumers are also advised to buy pork stamped with National Meat Inspection Service seal and from reputable meat shops.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. said the P18 billion in lost sales expected over the holidays is on top of the projected P40 billion in losses from operations in the Visayas and Mindanao, where some local government units have banned the entry of pork products from Luzon.
Visayas and Mindanao represent a combined 40 percent of the nationwide processed meat sales of P300 billion yearly.
The group said 20 provinces such as Cebu and Bohol imposed a total ban on pork and pork-based products from Luzon while another 26 LGUs implemented a conditional ban. About 46 provincial governments imposed restrictions on the movement of pork and pork-based products.
“We beg that these rules and restrictions be based on science and on the expert advice of internationally recognized animal health organizations,” PAMPI said.
It said that while the Agriculture, Health and Trade Departments drafted rules and regulations to govern the dynamics of the business, “we are seeing the difficulty in getting their rules and directives followed because final implementation lies in the LGUs.”
PAMPI said there might not be enough supply of Christmas hams and other pork-based products in the Visayas and Mindanao over the holidays because of the restrictions.
It said that while Cebu and Cagayan de Oro have their own ham production capabilities, their total production would not be able to supply the needs of the region unless the ban on Luzon-produced pork-based processed meats was rationalized. With PNA