By MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR
In exchange for the support it intends to provide the Philippines’ agriculture sector, the Belgian government had asked Agriculture Secretary William Dar to lift the country’s import ban on pork coming from the Western European country.
In a courtesy meeting with Belgian Ambassador Michel Goffin, Agriculture Secretary William Dar had sought to elevate the country’s agriculture cooperation with the Kingdom of Belgium.
Dar said that apart from the existing agreement with Israeli firm LR Group, the Department of Agriculture (DA) still needs more investments in Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) since two million hectares of farmland still need to be irrigated.
Goffin, for his part, proposed opportunities in the form of grants, loans, and business ventures for the collaboration on SPIS.
He then brought up about the ban the Philippine government imposed versus pork coming from Belgium in 2008 and asked for it to be lifted.
It was sometime in 2018 when Belgium confirmed its first African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks. As this happened, the DA, then led by former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, immediately imposed a temporary ban on pig and pork products coming from the European country.
The ban had stayed even if Belgium has been free from the deadly swine disease since the middle of 2019. Belgium currently has 6.2 million pigs, according to its report to the World Health Organization (WHO).