By Madelaine B. Miraflor
As Cebu extended its ban on pork products from Luzon where there is a rising number of African Swine Fever (ASF) cases, the local meat processors are now appealing for a ‘win-win’ solution.
In a statement, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI), the country’ largest group of meat processors, asked Cebu province to discuss other solutions in tackling the problem of ASF while working with industry players.
PAMPI issued the statement after Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia decided to extend the ban on pork products from Luzon to June 2020 in a bid to prevent the entry of ASF into the province.
“We recognize the prerogative of Governor Gwen for the actions that she has taken under the ASF developments in the country, specifically her decision to extend the ban to June 2020. This is based on her appreciation of the pros and cons of her choices based on the inputs of her technical and business advisory teams,” PAMPI said.
“We hope that she will see things from a wider perspective and work with industry stakeholders,” it added.
For its part, PAMPI said it would continue to advance the meat processing industry and maintain its commitment to truthfulness in its advocacy to educate consumers and stakeholders.
“We adhere to the empirical truth established by the OIE [World Animal Health Organization] that the ASF virus is killed and rendered incapable of infecting pigs when our products are subjected to 70 degrees Centigrade for at least 30 minutes,” PAMPI said.
Right now, the value of Cebu’s local hog industry stands at P11 billion.
Garcia’s decision came after it was revealed that the province of Negros is planning to issue a provincial ordinance permanently banning the entry of processed pork products from Luzon.
This was according to Negros’ Chief Veterinarian Renante Decena, who said other provinces in Western Visayas like Cebu and Bohol are also expected to follow suit.
ASF can’t infect humans and is not considered a food safety risk, but it can be spread indirectly through people’s clothing, footwear, vehicles, farm equipment, and livestock feed.
Reildrin Morales, head of the Crisis Management Task Force on Swine said the local hog industry, valued at P260 billion as of last year, is losing about P900 million per month because of ASF.
This, as the deadly swine disease already resulted to the death and culling of as much as 70,000 pigs in some parts of Luzon, namely Cavite, Quezon City, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Malabon, Caloocan, and Antipolo.
As of Thursday, new ASF cases were detected in Quezon City.
To contain the spread of the virus, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is now preparing for a National Zoning Plan that will be laid out within the week.
Based on this plan, Visayas, Mindanao, and MIMAROPA regions will be declared free-zones or clear zones, meaning that they can send their products anywhere in the country.
Regions 1, 2, and 5 will be declared as protected zones, while Regions 3 and IVA are surveillance zones.
Bulacan and Pampanga – two of areas that were hardest hit by the virus – will be declared infected zones and can only send their pork products in other infected zones as well.
Over the last weekend, Cavite province lifted the ban on the sale and distribution of processed pork products following consultations with officials of the DA, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Cavite is the first province to break away from a group of 65 provincial governors who issued such ban as part of their measures to prevent ASF from reaching their jurisdictions.
As of July, the Philippines’ swine industry has a population of 12.78 million heads, making the country the world’s eighth largest pork producer.