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SINAG blames 'unlimited,' 'untested' pork imports for spread of ASF

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) on Monday blamed what it called the “unlimited” and “untested” importation of pork into the Philippines for the continued spread of the African swine fever (ASF) in the country.

In a statement, SINAG executive director Jayson Cainglet said the government should look into providing assistance for local hog raisers and farmers, as there is no indemnification being given.

“It will not matter if you impose movement protocols and biosecurity measures sa (in) local farms and transport of live hogs if we continue to have unlimited entry of untested imported pork at the port of first entry,” he said.

“Grabe ang pahirap sa local producer, lalo sa backyard hog raisers when it comes to ASF protocols; pero bukas na bukas ang ating mga pantalan sa imported pork na walang ASF testing ang ginagawa,” he added.

(Local producers, especially backyard hog raisers, are facing severe difficulties when it comes to ASF protocols; but our ports are open to imported pork where no ASF tests are being conducted.)

GMA News Online has reached out to the Department of Agriculture (DA) for comment on the matter, but no response has been received as of this posting.

Just last month the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) warned of a possible pork shortage due to the spread of ASF, with the estimated losses in Luzon estimated at P100 billion.

“Since late last year, private and LGU (in the case of Cebu) na nag-compensate sa backyard farmers na tinamaan ng ASF. Bakit ‘yung enthusiasm and zest to support and protect pork importers ay wala for local raisers?” Cainglet said.

“Baka puwedeng local hog raisers naman ang tulungan ngayon! Aantayin pa ba nating maubos ang baboy ng bansa? O baka ‘yun talaga ang gusto nila?” he added.

(Since late last year, private and local government units [in the case of Cebu] were the ones compensating backyard farmers hit by ASF. Why is is it that the enthusiasm and zest to support and protect pork importers is not seen for local raisers?

Maybe local hog raisers can instead be the ones given assistance. Will we wait for all the pork in the country to be exhausted? Or is that what they want?)

Three ASF cases were recorded in three barangays in Carcar, Cebu in March, prompting authorities to place these areas in a state of calamity. Guimaras logged its first case in December, and Iloilo its first in November.

The DA has since said all regions in the country were affected by ASF, save for Metro Manila which had no hog raisers in the region.

Among the areas said to be ASF-free as of end-March were Aklan, Albay, Antique, Batanes, Biliran, Bohol, Bukidnon, Eastern Samar, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Oriental Mindoro, Misamis Oriental, Negros Occidental, Palawan, Quirino, and Romblon.

Latest data available from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that hog production increased by 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2022, but the whole agriculture sector saw a full-year drop in production to mark the third straight year of contraction. —KG, GMA Integrated News