National agro-industry group has strongly supported the common stance of Bohol and other areas outside Luzon preventing the entry of African swine fever (ASF) virus.
Gov. Arthur Yap thanked the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), which understands that Bohol is just not taking the risk that has already destroyed industries in affected provinces.
Yap considered the tremendous harm that just a single ASF case can do to the province’s entire hog industry—and the hundreds of thousands of Boholanos who rely on it and its sub-sectors.
The SINAG is a national private organization of companies engaged in agricultural industry, which includes hog production.
Yap also thanked the National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc. (NFHFI)) which itself raised the concern of further potential effect of the disease to the industry.
The group asked the local small-time backyard raisers to heed to the call to stop swill feeding, which is the most probable cause of spreading the ASF virus.
The ASF infection in Rizal province was caused by swill feeding from food leftovers from a hotel, which must have used ASF-contaminated pork products.
In a statement, the SINAG said it asked the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) not to urge the local government units (LGUs) to lift the ban on the entry of pork and related products.
This is while the ASF spread is not yet contained and still plaguing Luzon areas, where already several thousands of pigs have died, including those culled to avoid the further spread of the virus.
The SINAG gave the Bohol government a copy of its statement based on its appeal to the DILG.
The group asked DILG Sec. Eduardo Año not to issue a memorandum encouraging LGUs to lift the ban on processed pork products.
The members of SINAG represented by their chairman, Rosendo So, on Tuesday wrote to Año expressing serious concerns.
Lifting the ban “will run counter to the efforts that were put in place by several LGUs like Bohol and Cebu in the Visayas and Davao City in Mindanao to protect the local hog industries from the global outbreak of ASF,” they said.
Pork products from ASF-affected countries have been banned from the Philippines, and Bohol’s quarantine and border protection measures make sure that any contaminated products cannot enter.
PROCESSED PORK NO ASF TEST YET
In their letter, So pointed out that Felix Tiukinhoy Jr., president of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors (PAMPI), himself confirmed that no testing has ever been done to determine if their (PAMPI) processed pork products are ASF-free or not.
Accordingly, there is yet any testing to be done that will ascertain if these processed pork products are free from ASF virus.
“We have requested the Department of Agriculture (DA) to test all frozen meat in cold storage facilities, thru an independent third party like the SGS, but no official action has been taken,” So said.
The SINAG head said there were already “several incidences that confirmed the contamination of processed pork that entered our country, and the importation of pork products from banned countries by a member of PAMPI.”
By banned countries, So was referring to the countries where the ASF previously spread.
He said PAMPI, in one of their meetings with Department of Trade Secretary (DTI) Ramon Lopez, had also “made clear that it is not taking accountability for any violations of any of their members.”
Last June 14, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) confirmed that canned goods seized at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga were contaminated with ASF virus.
In that same month, more than 600 kilos of banned imported pork products from Belgium—and another batch from Poland but originating in Germany, was seized by the City Veterinary Office in Cebu.
The importer of these banned pork products was a member of PAMPI, according to the SINAG.
Another shipment containing 4,000 kilos of imported frozen pork from Germany was seized in Sta. Maria, Bulacan last June 30.
SECTOR WITH MORE LOSSES
SINAG members emphasized that no other sector has incurred more losses to the ASF outbreak than the hog industry.
The group said “the processed meat industry is miniscule as compared to the P500 billion hog industry and its allied businesses.”
The SINAG head said PAMPI’s claim of losses is not equal to the declared value of their industry, as per the record of the Board of Investment (BOI).
“Millions of backyard hog raisers, rice growers, corn farmers, coconut tillers and sugar workers, viajeros, market vendors, sales agents and workers across the veterinary and feed milling industry rely on the hog industry. But we never complain of these bans as we want to protect the regions and areas that are ASF-free,” So said.
According to the SINAG, as of today, farm gate prices of backyard hog raisers are down to P70-P80 per kilo, which is close to a 40% drop from the pre-ASF level of P110-P115 per kilo.
“A P30 per kilo drop in live weight prices would mean a loss of P2,250 per head. Per sow level, this would mean a loss of P3,825 (1.5 heads sold/sow level x P2,550/head lost). Actual losses for a month are about P48.57 billion,” So said.
Worse, demand for pork has also dropped by 20% to 30 percent, according to So’s group.
The SINAG chairman said, “The hemorrhage to the industry of the ASF is real, catastrophic, and in billions of pesos. And yet, we support the decision of the Visayas and Mindanao LGUs to ban the entry of our products to their regions to ensure that the Visayas and Mindanao remain ASF-free.”
So said they are hoping that the DILG will reconsider issuing the memorandum, adding they are open to discuss this further should the secretary feel the need to call them.
YAP REPEATS CONDITION
In September, DA Sec. William Dar asked the LGUs of Bohol and Cebu to reconsider the ban while some members of Congress questioned the “overreaction” by some provinces to the ASF scare, adding that the animal virus cannot harm human beings.
The Bohol governor said the province may prematurely lift the ban—even if it has been intended to be temporary until the ASF spread in Luzon areas would be fully contained.
But Yap reiterated his condition that the DA first make a “guaranteed assurance” to spend for the culling and safe disposal of all affected pigs, plus compensation for all losses that Bohol hog raisers will incur.
On overreaction issue, Reps. Edgar Chatto of Bohol and Pablo John Garcia of Cebu stood in the House plenary session, defending their provinces’ common policy to prevent the entry of the dreaded hog disease.
Bohol has an estimated 50,000 household/backyard hog raisers in an industry costing P6 billion, and about 85% of the Boholanos rely on the industry for livelihood and family earning. (Ven rebo Arigo)