Bacolod, Cebu, Bohol, and Negros Occidental are the provinces from Visayas region that have banned the entry of processed pork products from Luzon.
The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) worries this situation as the provinces ban not only the live pigs and hogs but also processed pork products.
Negros Occidental initially made the order in their province on Sept. 11, and then Bacolod supported the move by issuing an executive order to forbid the entry of live pigs, hog carcass, and pork products from Luzon for at least 90 days.
Although PAMPI president Felix Tiukinhoy understands the provinces’ concern of protecting their swine industry, the order causes confusion and halt on their industry’s production.
“Banning the entry of processed meat from Luzon on fear that such products could transmit the ASF virus sends the wrong signal to investors and that could harm the country’s economy,” he added.
PAMPI spokesman Rex Agarrado, on the other hand, said he urged government units, including the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to cosign a document that could be implemented nationwide.
However, he said the units have been acting separately, case by case.
Moreover, Agarrado said the government units should join forces and work towards a resolution, which is based on the test results of the blood samples from the affected pigs.
ASF virus is now out of control
Rep. Rico Geron of party-list group Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines also suggested that the whole government should cooperate and participate and not the DA alone.
“We can see that this is now beyond the control of the DA, they should not be the only one handling this. It is a national issue that should be handled by different departments,” he said.
17 areas nationwide have now experienced the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus, but the government has culled more than 20,000 pigs as of now, which is only 0.15% of the total inventory.
The Philippines has a total of 12.8 million hogs.
Just yesterday, two Bulacan mayors, Enrico Roque of Pandi and Ma. Rosario Ochoa-Montejo of Pulilan, confirmed the existence of ASF in some of the farms.
Give enough payment
Nevertheless, the low compensation of the government to hog raisers might have contributed to the spread of the ASF.
Geron called DA and prompted lawmakers to give higher indemnity payments to raisers. At least 70% of the market value of each culled pig might be enough, according to him.
DA, Geron said, only gives a standard rate of P3,500 for every pig at the moment, even the actual average market value ranges from P8,000 to P20,000.
“The P3,500 is just too small. If I’m the farmer, I will try to do something about it. That’s also one of the reasons why they (DA) cannot contain the virus because others are keeping their pigs,” Geron told reporters.
He even cited the recent incident of virus in Pangasinan, wherein the raiser tried to bring the hogs outside and sell them at a higher price.
Pangasinan has recently been included in the areas affected by the ASF after the confiscated 15 out of 30 blood samples from pigs were tested and had resulted positive.
Geron explained that “one size fits all” formula is not applicable to all as value of hogs differs and raisers have different amount of investment on their pigs.