The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) conducted a virtual meeting on January 13, 2021, between the government and private sector-partners through the National Banner Program Committee (NBPC) on Poultry, Livestock, and Corn to discuss pricing and supply issues as well as other concerns faced by the pork industry.
During the meeting, both private and government stakeholders acknowledged that the African Swine Fever (ASF) has greatly impacted the Philippine pork industry in terms of supply and prices. Participants from the private sector shared that some pork industry players have reduced their investments in the pork industry due to the fear of incurring huge losses brought about by the said virus affecting swine.
According to the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners Chairman for Biosecurity & Surveillance Dr. Angel Manabat, ASF claimed four million (4M) heads which translate to 38% of the swine population in the country.
Furthermore, the decline in supply is attributed to the decreasing sow population in the country. PSA’s data shows that as of October 2020, there has been a -15.2% growth rate for the sow population in the country while a -13.4% growth rate was recorded for the overall swine inventory in the Philippines.
Hog raisers also shared that they are forced to slaughter their breeders and swine without waiting for them to reach their respective target live weight due to fears of being affected by ASF.
The decline in supply accounts for the upward pricing trend of pork in the country. The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bantay Presyo team reported an average of PhP285.00/kg prevailing retail prices of pork kasim as of January 8, 2021.
A slight variance between the numbers from the private hog raisers and DA was observed during the meeting which is why a call to establish a database for the inventory and production data for the livestock and poultry sector was proposed to ensure an up to date, harmonized, and unified data can be used by the concerned stakeholders. DA Secretary William Dar welcomes the recommendation and said that the DA will be allocating funds to establish the said database.
Recognizing the severity of ASF as a threat in the swine industry, the private sector urged DA to intensify its campaign against the said virus by strengthening its first border facilities such as seaports to prevent the proliferation of imported pork meat tainted with ASF.
Former DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) Director Dr. Ronnie Domingo responded to the call of the private sector in intensifying government efforts to curb and eventually eliminate ASF in the country. He presented DA’s “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” (BABay ASF) which is the National ASF Prevention and Control Program of the Department of Agriculture.
Industry experts shared during the meeting that it took approximately 35 years for countries like Spain and Portugal to eradicate ASF. “We need to closely monitor inter-border movements of meat products to contain the spread of ASF in our country,” Dir. Domingo said.
The BABay ASF seeks to complement existing DA/BAI ASF control programs and ensure business continuity by preventing loss of livelihood due to ASF, protect ASF free swine farms through improved biosecurity measures and proactive surveillance using PCR and other BAI-accredited ASF tests, and assist in repopulating previously infected premises or identify financial support facilities for alternative livelihood projects for affected farmers.
Other actions will be taken to cushion the effects of ASF in the country such as multiplier breeder farms which will be funded under the Bayanihan 2 will be established and the increasing of the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) for pork meat is also being explored.
PCAF Acting Executive Director Liza Battad called for institutionalization and unified support and commitment of the stakeholders to eliminate ASF. She also thanked the participation of the Agriculture and Fishery Council (AFC) in their active participation towards the betterment of the Philippine pork industry.
Secretary Dar, on the other hand, assured the participants that the government is in control of the situation and urged the stakeholders to work closely with the DA to win the battle against ASF together. “More passion and more energy will be poured into this battle against ASF. Let’s do this as a nation,” Dar said. ### CCB