ASF in PH on third wave but spread is slowing down

Published December 5, 2020, 5:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The fatal animal disease African Swine Fever (ASF) that reached the Philippines’ backyard farms in August last year is now on its third wave, so far resulted in the culling of more than 400,000 pigs across the country.

Based on the latest government report, the ASF outbreak in the Philippines reached its third peak in September when there were additional 400 barangays that recorded new cases, bringing the total number of affected barangays to 2,024.

The first and second peaks were recorded in October last year and February this year, according to the same data.  

However, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Ronnie Domingo said that ASF’s spread is slowing down in terms of the new number of barangays that have been reporting possible outbreaks.

“Third-wave has eased, and the coordination with LGUs [local government units] has been improving. I hope we can sustain this slowdown. We just have to be vigilant in checkpoints,” Domingo said.

In November, in particular, there were only less than 50 new barangays that may have been hit by the virus.

So far, ASF already struck 10 regions in the Philippines across 32 provinces, including 378 municipalities and cities. It resulted in the death and culling of 403,206 hogs.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is distributing an indemnification fund of P5,000 per pig as part of the assistance to hog raisers whose backyard farms were hit by the virus.

Under the Bayanihan 2, which granted the DA as much as the P24-billion stimulus package for this year, a budget of P110 million has been set aside for BAI’s swine multiplier farm program wherein the agency will help affected raisers jumpstart their pig breeding business.

Meanwhile, National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) Executive Director Reildrin G. Morales said the country’s hog inventory remains thin due to ASF.

This, according to him, has been pushing pork prices higher particularly in Metro Manila since Luzon has the most ASF cases compared to Visayas and Mindanao.

As of December 3, the prevailing price of pork kasim in selected markets in Metro Manila is P290 per kilogram (/kg), while pork liempo costs P320/kg, based on the latest price monitoring report of DA.

“The price of pork remains high due to ASF and since Luzon is the most affected region, a lot of hog raisers here, wherein production used to be high, decided to control their production,” Morales said.  

To resolve this tight supply of pork, the government is now assisting hog raisers from Visayas and Mindanao, who were not affected by ASF, to ship their hogs to Luzon.

So far for this year, 174,292 hogs from Visayas and Mindanao have been shipped to different markets in Luzon.