THE Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) of Negros Occidental has noted a decline in its revenue collections particularly for various animal health services in 2020 due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

The PVO reported a reduction of 52.76 percent last year compared to its revenues of P7.19 million in 2019.

The animal health services include veterinary inspection and various animal health and laboratory fees, farm registrations and licensing.

For gamefowl alone, it recorded a significant decrease of 74.29 percent.

Only 88,360 heads were shipped out last year compared to 343,621 heads in 2019, it added.

Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena said in a statement that the decrease was attributed to the prohibition of cockfighting activities nationwide during the implementation of community quarantine.

Decena said several gamefowl expositions that are usually scheduled annually were also canceled.

"The limited number of flights to and from the province also contributed to the decrease in our revenue collections," he added.

An improvement on business confidence particularly to the province's livestock sector especially swine, however, was noted despite the decline in local revenues.

The PVO reiterated that the province has maintained its status as one of the few provinces in the country, which are still free from African Swine Fever (ASF).

Decena said such status has opened new market opportunities and allowed local hog raisers to supply live pigs to different parts of Luzon, which was affected by the dreaded disease affecting swine.

Based on the PVO's consolidated apprehension report from January to December 2020, a total of 12.65 tons of assorted pork products have been apprehended in ports, airport and other checkpoint areas in the province.

The estimated market value for these seized items has already reached a total of P5.57 million.

The Provincial ASF Task Force has also conducted inspection and monitoring of supermarkets, grocery stores and online sellers of frozen meat products.

For the past week, a total of 244 establishments were inspected to ensure compliance with the ASF Prevention Ordinance of Negros Occidental.

In a related development, the province's quarantine team has established disinfection stations for livestock transport carriers and hog vans at the Bredco and Escalante Ports last year.

These ports served as main routes for shipments of live hogs to Luzon.

For the whole of 2020, a total of 131,749 incoming vehicles and refrigerated container vans have been inspected at different ports of entry in the province.

Decena said all products allowed to enter the province were properly inspected and found to have complete documents.

He said hog shipment has increased by 46.18 percent last year, at 28,214 heads compared to 15,185 heads in 2019.

The devastating effect of ASF outbreaks in Luzon resulted in a huge storage of pork supply in the area and increasing the price to almost double -- from P220 per kilogram (kg) to P400/kg.

Decena said this opened new market opportunities for swine raisers in the province to supply hogs in Luzon.

"It has enabled them to earn more because of the higher prices being offered by Luzon traders as provided under a standing Memorandum of Agreement for continuous trade," he added.

The provincial veterinarian has expressed optimism for Negros Occidental to sustain its efforts in keeping an ASF-free province.

The PVO is pushing for a pro-active animal health biosecurity measures among its livestock and poultry stakeholders as measure to cope with the economic downside brought about by the pandemic, he added.*