Hog raisers raise concerns amid African swine fever scare

April Rafales, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2019 06:18 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2019 07:35 PM

MANILA - The Philippine hog industry is currently valued at P268 billion, with a 12-million hog population. The Department of Agriculture said it is one of the biggest contributors to the country's agri-economy, listing year-on-year growth of up the 3 percent, according to the Philippine Statistics Office.

The Philippines, whose cuisine has pork as a staple main ingredient, is about 93 to 95 percent self-sufficient in terms of its supply of pork and pork products.

Now that the agriculture department has announced the entry of the deadly African swine fever into the country, specifically in 7 areas in the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal, hog raisers are concerned of the potential effect of the disease on the industry.

They say the hog flu is a big threat but are confident that the agency has the situation under control.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that they have already controlled the spread of the disease by immediately putting affected areas under quarantine and culling all pigs within a 1-kilometer radius.

Chester Tan, president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc., said not even 1 percent of the entire industry was affected by the disease. The farmgate price of swine has been spared too.

But he said their operations are affected since several provinces such as Cebu, Bohol, Pangasinan and Ilocos Sur have announced stricter measures, sometimes to the point of banning the entry of swine and pork products from other provinces or areas affected with ASF.

He made an appeal to local government units to allow the transport of products into their territories as long as the dealers or trucking services are able to show their veterinary certificate, transport permit and meat inspection certificates to prove that the products are safe and disease-free.

Besides this, he also asked local small-time backyard raisers to heed the call of the agriculture agency to stop swill feeding as it is the most probable cause of spreading the disease.

Swill feeding, Bureau of Animal Industry head Ronnie Domingo explained, is feeding hogs food waste from airlines, sea vessels, restaurants, public markets and hotels.

The virus that originated from an ASF-infected country may have been transmitted to the pigs in the Philippines through such food waste.

Meanwhile, global financial services firm INTL FCStone expressed concern that the ASF may hurt US soy exports as it would impact the demand for feed, including soybean meal.

It noted that US trade groups have been trying to offset the decline in soy exports to China, which is affected by ASF, by selling to Southeast Asia. It anticipated that the region may have less demand for soybean meal because of swine flu.