NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
With the whole swine industry of Luzon hounded by African Swine Fever (ASF), and the tempting high farm gate price of live hogs and pork meat there, Bohol authorities are seeing an opportunity of supplying Luzon with the much needed pork meat for the Christmas season.
Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie lapis, during the recent meeting of the ASF Provincial Executive Council held at the Reception Hall of the Office of the Provincial Administrator at the new Capitol shared that while Bohol sells live hogs at P100.00-115.00 per kilo, farm gate price in Luzon for the same is P200.00-230.00.
For pork meat, when pork meat is sold at P170.00-197.00 a kilo, the same sells at P340.00-360.00 in Luzon.
Such is because with the current ASF outbreak in Luzon, farm owners are forced to cull their stocks, to make sure the virus could not contaminate more farms and lay to waste Luzon’s multi billion peso industry.
African swine fever is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs of all ages. While not a threat to human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans, the disease can decimate hog populations in a place, causing billions in losses.
LUZON FIRST HIT
First reported in some backyard farms in Luzon in September of 2019, ASF has spread nearly all over Luzon and is affecting pig farms in Bicol, and it could not be long before the virus could cross the Visayas, if biosecurity measures that local government authorities have put up in defense of the viral animal disease, fail.
As early as February of 2020, ASF cases have also been reported in southern Mindanao, and have slowly crossed its way to northern Mindanao.
Most recent, suspected cases have been reported in Bukidnon and Iligan City, although there have been no confirmation of the suspected incidents surfaced.
BOHOL SECURITY MEASURES
As for Bohol, the Provincial ASF Executive Council, in partnership with large farm owners have put up their own biosecurity measures, most important among them is Bohol’s series of Executive Orders banning the entry of live hogs, pork meat in raw or processed products and pork by-products, in a bid to safeguard Bohol’s multi-million backyard hog industry and the island safe from the contagious viral disease.
The over-all after effect, coupled with the COVID-19 travel restrictions has resulted in slow animal movement, which Dr Lapiz ably showed in a chart.
In 2017 for example, Bohol was able to ship out 47,747 heads of live hogs, 29,409 heads in 2019 and only about 10,902 in 2020.
Had it not been because of the closure of tourism establishments, Bohol’s unshipped supply could have been consumed easily, but the decreased demand with the closure of tourism sites, banned fiesta festivities and the lowered purchasing power due to job displacements, farm owners have to decide to sell out or endure the high feed costs.
The situation also pushed several backyard growers to go to sell cheap than keep feeding without sure markets.
But while entry of live hogs, pork meat and its byproducts have been banned, there have been no restrictions in Bohol’s shipping out live hogs to respond to the demand in Luzon and with the Mindanao supply now suspect.
The opportunity to ship out live hogs to Luzon could solve local problems, but, Dr. Lapiz added, Bohol needs to put up measures to keep Bohol safe.
The Provincial council then is drafting the guidelines for hog transport outside the province, one that could put up a security perimeter to keep Bohol’s swine industry alive and squealing.