Is hog culling in ASF-hit areas effective? Pork producers want to know

CEBU CITY – A group of pork producers has called on the government to reevaluate if culling of hogs in African Swine Fever (ASF)-affected areas is really effective.

The Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. (ProPork) likewise asked the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) to seriously look into what the Cebu provincial government is currently doing to mitigate the impact of ASF on the industry.

Failing to do so may put the country’s P260-billion swine industry in great peril, said Rolando E. Tambago, president of ProPork.

Tambago said the country has already lost at least five million heads of its swine population due to ASF but this was not purely because of actual infections but because of the implemented protocols.

"The BAI existing protocol of culling even healthy pigs within 500-meter radius which caused farmers panicking contributed to this loss of the hog inventory," Tambago said.

The group believes that culling is counter-productive and affects the country’s food security and causes the disease to spread even more as farmers who fear total loss are forced to sell their hogs or smuggle sickly pigs.

"They've been doing this protocol for more than three years, yet the disease continues to spread," Tambago said

Tambago said if culling healthy pigs continues, a possible massive supply shortage of pork may cause spikes in retail prices within two to three months.

Gov. Gwen Garcia has ordered the suspension of culling of pigs in ASF-affected areas in Cebu.

"We laud the move of Gov. Gwen Garcia of Cebu to seek an alternative approach to avoid seeing the industry shrinking more."

Should BAI still continue to implement their protocol without seriously considering and evaluating Cebu's move, Tambago said they can't help but suspect this is intentionally done to pave way for more importation.

"In 2022, the country imported 710.3 million kilograms of pork at a reduced tariff. That's almost half of the country's annual demand. If we fail to protect the remaining half of our local industry, there is high possibility that we will be fully reliant on imported pork and consumers will eventually suffer due to lack of food security,” Tambago said.