DESPITE the entry of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Philippines, Backyard Raiser Association president Filemon Santander has expressed optimism over the situation saying that there is an opportunity for Mindanao hog raisers here.
On Monday, September 9, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has confirmed cases of ASF in the Philippines.
Santander, in a phone interview with SunStar Davao, said it is only in Luzon where the ASF is present. According to DA, at least 7,416 hogs within the one-kilometer radius of the affected areas in Rizal and Bulacan provinces have already been culled.
He said there is an opportunity for small and big hog raisers in Mindanao to produce more should the supply in Luzon drop.
Santander also pointed out that it is a good time for hog raisers in Mindanao to consider exporting considering that there is an increase in demand for pork in areas affected by the ASF.
While there is an opportunity, he said the hog raisers in Mindanao would need support from the DA, especially when it comes to capitalization, to be able to produce more. Santander added that the hog industry in Mindanao is ready to meet the demands once DA encourages them to produce more for the market.
Despite their optimism, Santander is not discounting that there are fears among the members with regards to the ASF.
“It will be a big blow to the industry if ASF enters Mindanao,” he said in Bisaya. He added that unlike cholera, ASF has no vaccine.
Santander said the best course to prevent ASF spreading to Mindanao is through containment and quarantine.
“Bantayonon jud ang mga entry points like mga airports (There must be close monitoring in the entry points like the airports),” he said.
Santander also said educating hog raisers, especially the small ones, is also key to preventing the disease from spreading in Mindanao.
“This will allow hog raisers to become aware of what the disease is,” Santander said.
The Backyard Raiser Association is set to meet with its members to discuss with them strategies on preventing ASF from entering Mindanao. They will also use this time to educate the members about the disease.
Meanwhile, DA-Davao director Ricardo Oñate told SunStar Davao in a phone interview that they have drafted a resolution to ban the entry of pork from ASF affected provinces and its by-products from entering Davao Region. The resolution will be submitted to the different local government units.
He also reminded the farmers to not feed their pigs with swill, locally called “lamaw”. He said this could also be a carrier of the disease,
Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, who is currently the acting mayor, issued Executive Order No. 37 (E.O. 37) creating the African Swine Fever Task Force, which aims to protect the city from ASF and implement the Davao City ASF Protection Program.
“There is a need to create a body that would look into the formulation of appropriate policies and implementation of programs to protect the public and the swine industry from the threats of ASF in Davao City,” Duterte said.
Pork is safe
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured Monday, September 9, that the DA would undertake measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
In a bulletin issued Monday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured that the DA is on top of the situation.
“We are prepared to respond to all scenarios. We assure the public there is enough supply of pork in the market,” Dar stated.
African swine fever is a disease that is fatal to pigs but harmless to humans.
Dar said that “although the disease does not pose any hazard or risk to humans, it is very infectious among pigs, and can easily spread from one farm to another if not properly managed.”
Dar also said the DA will strengthen collaboration with industry stakeholders and local government unit to ensure that pork remains safe for consumption.
“For consumers, we advise them to remain vigilant when buying meat and meat products, and always look for the ‘NMIS’ seal as a guarantee,” Dar added.