By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Domestic hog producers said the Philippines cannot yet export pork contracting Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s earlier pronouncement.
Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. (ProPork) said Piñol’s plan for the Philippines to export pork is not feasible even if the country remains free from the deadly pork disease African Swine Fever (ASF) and demand in other countries continue to rise.
ProPork President Edwin Chen said the Philippines’ capability to export pork products remains an “aspiration” because the priority right now is to cater to local demand.
“To see it [happening] in the next few months, it’s going to be a long shot,” Chen said.
To recall, Piñol said some local pork producers are now planning to export pork as ASF devastates the hog industry of nearby countries like China, pushing global demand for pork products to soar.
No cases of ASF had been detected in the Philippines so far. Thus, security in all the entry points in the Philippines has already been tightened to block the entry of the deadly virus.
“With China importing huge volumes of pork as a result of the ASF devastation, pork world market prices have gone up, giving the Filipino hog farmers a respite from the inflow of cheaper imported pork,” Piñol said.
“In fact, some large hog production groups are now eyeing the export of Philippine pork to China, a move which could create a supply shortage in the local market,” he added.
Chen said that despite the efforts of the government to protect the country from being hit by ASF, local pork producers are still not confident that the Philippines will be spared from the outbreaks.
Just this week, ASF already hit Laos, recording at least seven outbreaks and killing almost a thousand pigs.
Aside from China, other countries that were already hit by ASF since last year include Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova, Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.
“We are now in close coordination with DA [Department of Agriculture] and its attached agencies like NMIS [National Meat Inspection Service] and BAI [Bureau of Animal Industry] in monitoring the situation,” Chen said.
“If ASF enters the country, it’s going to be a huge blow to the hog industry. We saw how much it destroyed China,” he added.
The Philippines’ hog industry is currently valued at P260 billion, raising 12 million to 13 million pigs. Last month, Philippines proceeded with the importation of as much as 300,000 metric tons (MT) of corn at lower tariffs as the country prepares for the surge in demand for livestock feeds.
The demand is seen to increase as the government moved to tighten security against ASF, especially after Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the recall and seizure of processed meat products from countries affected by ASF, which is on top of the existing importation ban the Department of Agriculture (DA) already placed in these countries.
These orders mean the Philippines won’t temporarily allow the entry and the consumption of these imported pork products, processed or canned.
As a result, local meat producers must step up and fill the demand with locally produced livestock meat.
“The DA expects a dramatic growth of the hog and poultry sector this year,” Piñol said. “Importation of corn will ultimately increase the production of livestock animal and meat.”