SOCOT HOG RAISERS WELCOME BAN ON PORK IMPORTS
GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Hog raisers here and in nearby South Cotabato are backing up the move to ban pork meat and other pork products from countries suspected to be infected with the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF).
An officer of the South Cotabato Swine Producers Association (SOCOSPA) said the spread of the swine disease into the country could wipe out the entire Philippine hog industry.
“It (ASF) is very dangerous. The mortality rate is 100 percent. It can wipe a farm in months,” the officer, who did not want to be identified for lack of authority from his group, said in reaction to reports that the Department of Agriculture has added Vietnam on the growing list of countries, where imported pork meat and other products are now banned.
ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of pigs, warthogs, European wild boar and American wild pigs and can quickly spread in pig herds.
SOCOSPA urged the government to institute mitigating measures in any event the swine disease spreads into the country.
In September last year, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol ordered a ban on pork imports from China, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine following reports of outbreaks of ASF there.
On Monday, Piñol said he will issue 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.
The SOCOSPA official added that they want the government to strictly monitor and implement biosecurity measures in all points of entries in both international and domestic airports and seaports.
The swine producers here, he said, are also asking the government to expand the ban until world health officials declare it safe to export and import pork products.
“Make the ban total, if possible,” another SOCOSPA member said.
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. (PR)