The African swine fever (ASF) has so far hit 25 provinces and resulted in the depopulation of 350,000 pigs, Agriculture Secretary William Dar reported on Wednesday.
During the Laging Handa press briefing, Dar said the culling of around 350,000 pigs has a “significant bearing” on the country’s hog industry.
Dar, however, assured that there is still enough supply of pork in the market based on the inventory of frozen pork in warehouses and cold storages, which is 55 percent more than the inventory last year.
The supply of pork hams for the Christmas season is also sufficient.
We have enough supply of pork that we need to bring to the market regularly, he said, adding that some cold storage and warehouse owners are “manipulating” the release of frozen pork.
“We will do what is necessary to facilitate the release of frozen pork from the cold storages and warehouses,” he said.
Dar pointed out that ASF continues to be a threat to the Philippine swine industry, which only a few countries has fully eradicated.
“Some countries have controlled the outbreak, just like in Spain, but only after 30 years. Other countries have reported intrusions and re-occurrence of the virus. It is called a transboundary disease here. It is a very complex problem,” he said, noting the need for cooperation between hog raisers and traders to contain the virus.
Dar said the Department of Agriculture is continuously working on restarting the hog industry in areas that are affected by the ASF.
The department has started to provide support for small and backyard hog raisers and delivered livelihood opportunities in affected areas.
“We are (also closely) monitoring prices of pork in the market, as well as facilitating the transport of pork from Mindanao and Visayas to Metro Manila. There is an ongoing facilitation and we now have very substantial volume of pigs transported to Metro Manila,” Dar said.
Chicken can also be an alternative source of protein, he pointed out.
The DA chief said the country’s inventory of chicken is 260 percent more than last year, which he hopes will be “utilized” and sold as more industries and restaurants are now opening.
He said the farm gate price of chicken is also going up, which could mean the Philippine poultry industry is starting to recover.