ASF detected in Visayas Region; DA eyes importation of pork to stabilize prices

Marje Pelayo   •   January 18, 2021   •   272

MANILA, Philippines — The African Swine Fever (ASF) has been detected in Eastern Visayas, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The cases were detected in the municipality of Abuyog, Leyte specifically in barangays Can-Apurong and Canmarating.

Thus, the local government unit decided to limit the entry and exit of pork products in the municipality from January 14 to February 15 to curb the possible spread of ASF to nearby areas.

The LGU has set a depopulation or culling of swines in areas within the 500-meter radius from ground zero while swine raisers will be compensated with P5,000 for each adult pig and P2,000 for each piglet.

Following the detection of ASF in Visayas region, traders fear it might affect the supply of pork transported to Luzon given that Eastern Visayas is among the main sources of pork since most areas of Luzon were affected by ASF.

During an interview on Monday (January 18), Secretary William Dar assured that the DA already allotted P400 million to help hog raisers repopulate the country’s hog industry.

Dar also said, the agency is eyeing importation of pork to stabilize pork prices in the local market.

“Kasama po iyan sa plano at pinag-aaralan namin na dagdagan ang minimum access volume to triple of what is allowed. Ang allowed ngayon is 54,000 metric tons isang taon kung pwede ay i-triple ito para madagdagan ang pork supply sa bansa,” he said.

DA relaxes conditions for insured ASF-affected hog raisers

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (DA-PCIC) has relaxed conditions for paying hog raisers for their losses under its insurance program for hogs.

This is in support of the Duterte government’s initiative to revitalize hog production amid the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic.

During its regular meeting on Wednesday (February 24), the PCIC Board of Directors approved the DA proposal to pay losses resulting from government-ordered culling or slaughter of insured hogs.

Likewise, the Board agrees to raise the payable amount up to 100 percent of the insurance cover or the total sum insured.

The move is expected to help encourage the raising of over 10 million heads of swine among commercial and backyard raisers. 

The stocks to be insured will be a mix of fatteners and breeders, including grandparent stock, among the commercial raisers; and fatteners and breeders, among the backyard raisers.

Backyard hog raisers currently receive free insurance, provided they are listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), the country’s database of bona fide subsistence farmers and fisherfolk. But they will be covered by the relaxed provision on indemnity payment and culling or emergency slaughter, the DA further said.

Moreover, the Board directed the PCIC to increase the number of backyard hog raisers to be provided insurance coverage, it added.

The agriculture department guarantees that these enhanced insurance policy features for the swine industry will remain in place until such time that the industry shall have stabilized or a vaccine or other veterinary solutions will have been developed for ASF.

Consistent with the DA policy, the PCIC will require commercial and backyard raisers to adhere to prescribed biosafety protocols, such as cleaning, disinfecting, and training in biosafety measures.

This protocol is contained in the DA Administrative Order No. 6, issued on February 6, 2021, entitled “Guidelines on the Implementation of the Recovery, Rehabilitation and Repopulation Assistance Program for ASF-affected and Non-ASF Affected Areas.”

Consumer group calls for transparency on alleged manipulation of pork prices

Marje Pelayo   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A consumer group is asking the government to release the result of its investigation on the alleged manipulation of pork prices and supply in the country. 

Laban Konsyumer wants to put an end to the allegation of price and supply manipulation of pork in the country.

Laban Konsyumer president, Atty. Vic Dimagiba, said that if the result of the investigation proves that the price of pork is reasonable, consumer confidence will be regained.

Should there be no manipulation, the names of the businessmen would be cleared.

“Kailangan ang mga tao dapat managot kung may mananagot, whether private individuals or public officials,” Dimagiba said.

“Iyong nagkulang sa paggawa niya ng trabaho ay ilabas na at magsampa ng kaso kung meron naman. kung wala naman isara na nila yung imbestigasyon dahil mabalik din naman yung tiwala ng mga negosyante na hindi sila pinagsisishan ng pamahalaan,” he added.

The group also stands on the side of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the implementation of the price ceiling.

The DA said that the intervention is effective because it already decreased the prices of pork by P100 per kilogram.

“Sa monitoring namin meron pang nagtitinda P350 to P360 pero wala na yung P400 to P450. In effect the price ceiling is successful kasi marami pa rin naman bumebenta ng P270 to P300 na sumusunod,” explained DA Asec. Arnel de Mesa.

On the other hand, Manny Pereja, the market master in Las Piñas Market has filed a petition before the Supreme Court to stop the price ceiling.

“Iyan ang pinaka last resort na nakikita ko na kwestyunin ang Constitutionality ng batas na iyan dahil hindi naman nagre-reflect talaga sa tunay na estado ng ating bilihan talaga o nung hog industry,” Pereja said.

DA officials, however, assure that there will be enough supply in the coming days.

“Ginarantiya na meron na tayong enough supply tomorrow, 100% sa requirement nila,” National Coordinator of DA-Bantay Presyo Jerry Pelayo said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA to vendors: Sale, display of frozen meat products sans proper refrigeration facilities not allowed

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has reminded vendors that it is prohibited to display or sell frozen products in public markets without properly- equipped refrigeration facilities.

This is pursuant to DA Administrative Order No. 6 Series of 2012 which emphasizes the rules and regulations on hygienic handling of chilled, frozen, and thawed meat in commercial establishments.

The DA explained that improper storage and thawing of frozen meat products, particularly in open public markets, presents a significant risk in the safety of meat products for sale.

The DA explained on the matter after the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) alleged Secretary William Dar as saying frozen is better than freshly butchered pork.

“Secretary William Dar did not say that frozen pork is better than fresh slaughtered pork,” the DA emphasized.

The order states that: “All persons or corporations, found guilty of directly or indirectly violating any provisions of this Order shall be subject to sanctions prescribed in Republic Act 9296, otherwise known as the “Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines” without prejudice to prosecution for violation of the Consumer Act of the Philippines and other applicable laws.”

Amid the current issue on pork and poultry supply, the DA through the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) continuously strive to improve the safe selling of meat, both frozen and fresh, in both public and private markets.

The DA, therefore, warns the general public not to buy frozen meat products if these are not stored in chillers or freezers.

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