By Madelaine B. Miraflor
As African Swine Fever (ASF) reaches more backyard farms in Luzon, the local meat processors are appealing for science-based ban on the transportation of meat across Visayas and Mindanao as this could lead to shortage of “Christmas hams” in the provinces and ultimately, to as much as P40 billion in losses for the local meat processing industry.
“There will not be enough Christmas Hams and other pork-based products in the Visayas and Mindanao during the Christmas Festivities,” Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) said in a statement.
“While Cebu and Cagayan de Oro have their own, ham production capabilities, their total production will not be able to supply the needs of the region unless the ban on Luzon-produced pork-based processed meats is rationalized,” it added.
PAMPI issued the statement as Cebu and Bohol imposed a total ban on the shipment of pork-based products from Luzon, while 26 other provinces have also imposed a conditional ban.
In total, there are now 46 provinces in the country that have imposed restrictions on the transportation of Luzon-based pork processed meats into their areas.
Visayas and Mindanao represents about 35 to 40 percent of total sales of processed meat products annual volume, which stands at approximately P300 billion. Thus, the total ban from these provinces could result to the industry losing as much as P40 billion.
“The meat processing industry understands the need for the local governments to protect their constituencies. At the same time, we beg that these rules and restrictions be based on science and on the expert advice of internally recognized Animal Health Organizations,” PAMPI said.
As per World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), ASF is a disease infection that affects swine only. It is not transferrable to man or to other animals.
Last week, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) urged the meat processors and the hog raisers to issue a joint statement to assure the public that their products complied with high quality and safety standards, and are therefore safe to eat.
Right now, all reported ASF cases in the Philippines are in Luzon. These outbreaks are in Bulacan, Pampanga, Antipolo, Quezon City, and Rizal.
Aside from Cebu and Bohol, Davao Oriental, Negros Occidental and Nueva Vizcaya are already implementing either a total or unconditional 90 to 100 days ban on the entry of all pork meat and processed meat products from Luzon.
All pork containing processed meats were also taken out of the shelves in Cebu since September 19.
Meanwhile, conditional bans have also been instituted by Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Batangas, Negros Oriental, Samar, Leyte, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, and Davao Oriental on all pork products coming from Luzon with confusing document.
Members of PAMPI are now seeking to lift this ban through a request to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which was coursed through the Department of Agriculture (DA). (MBM)