Mindanao Hog Raisers Can Benefit From ASF Outbreak: Official

The devastation that the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF) had caused in such countries as Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and China might have actually opened an opportunity for hog raisers in Mindanao.

The Backyard Raisers Association here said while its members do not relish the suffering that hog farmers in those countries had been experiencing, the situation had opened up opportunities for them to export their products.

“The government should explore the opportunity of Mindanao as an exporter of meat to other countries,” Felimon Santander, association chair, said in a report by Edge Davao.

He said that aside from being ASF-free, Mindanao is also not affected by foot and mouth disease and avian influenza (bird flu).

“Huge hog farms in Mindanao could potentially indulge in exports, especially to Singapore and other neighboring countries,” Santander added.

However, he said that they were also on the look out against the possible entry of ASF as it could have a devastating effect on the industry.

“We will try to police our ranks if possible, help the agencies that the Asian Swine Fever will not enter the country. We conduct meetings and inform them about ASF,” Santander said.

He said unlike commercial hog raisers, backyard raisers are generally lax on bio-security.

Santander, in an interview by the Philippine Information Agency 11 (Davao region) said it is also difficult at this point to convince subsistence raisers, or those raising pigs for their own consumption, to stop using food wastes in feeding their pigs.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on August 30, 2018 issued Memorandum No. 22, which prohibits the feeding of food scraps/wastes to pigs, especially if these came from the airports and seaports, which are potential entry points of contaminated pork products.

Maria Teresa Bacayo, head of the Veterinary Quarantine Services of the Bureau of Animal Industry in Southern Mindanao, said they also continue to prevent the possible entry of ASF by confiscating meat products suspected to have come from ASF-stricken areas.

She said that in January alone, they have burned 80 kg. of processed meat from such countries as China.

Government data showed that Southern Mindanao has about 904,900 hogs as of January 1, 2018.

Santander said backyard swine raising accounts for 65 percent of that figure.

In South Cotabato, an officer of the South Cotabato Swine Producers Association (SOCOSPA) said the government should continue instituting mitigating measures in any event the swine disease spreads into the country.

SOCOSPA has a combined 55,000 sow population and produces more than 45,000 heads of hogs a month from 20 big swine farms alone.

The biggest hog producer is Biotech Farms in Banga, South Cotabato which has a 10,000-head output a month.

On its Facebook page, Biotech Farms said it “is implementing stringent biosecurity measures to prevent the entry of African Swine Fever.”

In the 1980s, South Cotabato supplied 20 percent of the hog requirement of Metro Manila and the swine industry was one of its biggest revenue earners.

Piñol said on Monday the government was doing its best to prevent the entry of the disease and he will be issuing an order to include Vietnam, following reports that the swine disease has already spread in the said country.

Piñol, earlier, also temporarily prohibited pork products from Japan.

“We have to protect our hog industry from diseases even if that would mean closing our borders to pork coming from high-risk or ASF affected countries,” he said.

The agriculture secretary said the hog industry is a vital sector in Philippine agriculture.

“It is growing tremendously through the efforts of stakeholders,” he said.

The move to protect the local hog industry all the more became expedient given that the country will soon export pork meat and pork products to Singapore, Piñol revealed. (PNA)

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