Canned pork seized from OFW positive for African Swine Fever virus

Marje Pelayo   •   June 14, 2019   •   4455

Confiscated canned pork products that tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF) virus | Courtesy : Secretary Manny Piñol’s Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol confirmed on Friday (June 12) that the canned pork products confiscated last March 25 at the Clark International Airport have tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.

Piñol said that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reported the detection of the ASF virus from the confiscated canned pork products brought in by a returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from Hong Kong.

The Agriculture Chief cited a report by Dr. Rachel Azul of BAI’s Virulogy Section saying “the viral DNA was isolated in pork luncheon meat and was tested using the ASF Taqman PCR Asssay at the ADDRL,” a procedure validated by laboratories in the United Kingdom and is widely used in countries in Asia for detection of ASF virus.

Azul clarified, however, that the detection of the ASF virus in the confiscated canned pork does not change the Philippine’s status as an “African Swine Fever-free” nation.

“So far, no African swine fever infections have been reported in pigs in the country,” she said as posted by Secretary Piñol.

“The seizure is a warning for the industry and an acknowledgment of the catastrophic threat on our doorsteps. If introduced, ASF would have a significant impact on pig health and production and contribute to enormous economic losses,” she added.

In a separate post, Secretary Piñol defended the Bureau of Quarantine for imposing strict screening procedures at airports as preventive measure against the the entry of the deadly pig virus.

“Kung nakalusot po ito at naipakain sa mga alagang baboy ang tira-tira, maaring kumalat ang sakit sa ating mga babuyan at magiging sanhi ng pagkasira ng ating hog industry,” he said.

(If leftovers of these products were fed to our livestock, the virus could have spread and harm our hog industry.)

“Doon po sa mga nagsasabing nag-o-over react lang kami at nagrereklamo sa mga mahigpit na quarantine protocols, ito po ang patunay na meron talaga tayong kinakaharap na panganib,” he added.

(To those who are accusing us of over reacting and were complaining against strict quarantine protocols, this is the proof that there is really danger ahead of us.)

READ: Ban on pork, pork-based products from ASF-infected countries still in effect – DA

Piñol asked all returning Filipinos to yield to quarantine officers at the airport.

“Huwag na po tayong maging pilosopo at matigas ang ulo. Sumunod po tayo sa mga quarantine officers sa mga airport,” he appealed.

(Let us not argue and don’t be hard-headed. Let us just follow the quarantine officers at the airport.)

“Bawal na po magpasok ng mga delata at processed pork products sa bansa. Huhulihin po kayo at pagmumultahin,” he concluded.

(It is prohibited to bring canned and processed pork products into the country. You will be arrested and fined.)

Kaso ng ASF sa bansa, bumaba mula nang ipatupad ang community quarantine — BAI

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Iniulat ng Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) ngayong Biyernes, Hulyo 3 na malaki ang ibinaba sa kaso ng African Swine Fever (ASF) sa bansa matapos ipatupad ang community quarantine bunsod ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sa isang panayam sa UNTV program na Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, sinabi ni BAI Officer-in-Charge Dr. Ronnie Domingo na umaabot na lamang sa 20 kaso ng ASF kada isang milyong baboy ang naitatala ng ahensiya.

Mas mababa ito kumpara sa 63 cases na napaulat bago ipatupad ang community quarantine sa maraming lugar sa bansa.

Ayon kay Domingo, nakatulong ang paghihigpit sa pagbiyahe ng mga produktong baboy para mapigilan ang pagkalat ng ASF.

Sa kabila nito, sinabi ng opisyal na patuloy pa rin ang kanilang pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga lokal na pamahalaan upang mabantayan ang mga babuyan at agad maaksyunan ang mga kaso ng ASF infection.

“Doon sa mga katabing baryo kung saan mayroong tinamaan, karaniwan po ‘pag may na-report po sa atin na bagong naapektuhan ng mga baboy, sa katabing bayan po ‘yon o kaya sa katabing barangay at ‘yan po y’ong ating binabantayan ngayon. Nag-organisa po tayo para mahigpitan po natin y’ong mga paggalaw ng mga baboy sa isang lugar,” ani Domingo.

Patuloy rin ang kanilang pakikipag-ugnayan maging sa pribadong sektor upang mapigilan ang pagkalat pa ng ASF lalo’t maaaring mabuhay ang virus kahit sa frozen meat sa loob ng tatlong taon, batay sa mga pag-aaral.

Pinaiigting rin aniya ng BAI, katuwang ang Bureau of Customs at Department of Agriculture, ang kampanya laban sa smuggling ng karne na maaaring maging daan upang makapasok sa bansa ang ASF at iba pang mga sakit sa hayop.

“’Pag dumating ho y’ong mga meat products na yan sa pier, nagkakaroon lang ho ng initial examination kasi wala ho tayong cold storage facility sa mga pier,” ani Domingo.

“Bubuksan ho ‘yan, iche-check namin together with the Department of Agriculture officials, tapos ipa-podlock ho natin ‘yan. Babantayan natin kasama ng mga taga-DA at NMIS papunta po doon sa cold storage nila at pagdating po doon, iinspect natin 100 percent habang binababa po ‘yan,” dagdag pa niya.

Ang masasabat na mga pagkaing kontaminado ng ASF ay agad aniyang dinadala sa isang pasilidad kung saan maaari itong sunugin gamit ang kemikal upang mapuksa ang virus.

Bukod sa ASF, sinabi rin ni Domingo na binabantayan nila sa ngayon ang G4 strain ng swine disease na kamakaila’y napaulat na nadiskubre sa ilang baboy sa China.

Payo naman ni Domingo sa publiko na mas mainam pa ring suriin at lutuing mabuti ang mga binibiling karne ng baboy at iba pang meat products upang masigurong ligtas itong kainin. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Senate to probe DA’s procurement of alleged overpriced fertilizer

Marje Pelayo   •   June 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has released a P5-B budget for the procurement of fertilizer to be distributed to local farmers under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“Minabuti po natin na mayroong fertilizer this time around kasi may pandemya tayo [We believe it’s best to have fertilizers at this time of pandemic],” noted DA Secretary William Dar.

“Gusto nating pataasin ang food sufficiency level sa bansa [We want to improve the country’s food sufficiency level] from now 86% to 93% to 94%,” he added.

But an agricultural group ‘Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura’ (SINAG) claimed that DA’s bidding price of P1,000 per bag is higher by P150 as compared to about P800 per bag that farmers regularly buy in local markets. 

“Kung ang floor price mo ilalagay mo sa mataas, anong tendency ng mga dealer? Magbi-bid ng mataas kasi yun ang floor price mataas [If you set a high floor price, dealers will bid higher as well],” argued SINAG President Rosendo So.

But the Agriculture Department argued that the budget of P1,000 per bag of fertilizers is actually lower than the surveyed price of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (P1,043 to P1,062/bag between March to May 2020) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (P1,140/bag in December 2019).

DA acknowledged that the price of fertilizer indeed dropped but it was already the bidding period and it also included other expenses like transportation. 

“We are not bound na baguhin kasi the DA BAC is merely relying on what is included in the terms of reference given by the end-users,” explained DA Undersecretary Waldo Carpio.

But SINAG argued that the actual price that farmers have been buying is better than those in surveys.

“Itong mga nakukuha nating presyo is resibo na ng mga farmers. Ano ang mas titingnan ng tao? Iyong survey o iyong actual na presyo [What we have are actual receipts from farmers. What do you think the public will believe? The surveys or the actual price]?” argued So.

The matter has reached the office of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chair Senator Cynthia Villar who vowed to launch a probe on this once the Senate session resumes in July. 

“Kasi ito kung ang bibilhin nila ay P5 billion peso-worth na ipamimigay sa farmers, that would be P5-million. So kung may overprice na P140 per bag, that’s P700M. Malaki din diba? [If they bought P5-billion-peso-worth of (fertilizers) to be distributed to farmers, that would be P5-million. If there’s an overpricing of P140 pesos per bag, that’s P700-M. That’s a huge amount],” noted Villar.

“Kaya titingnan natin kung tama iyong retail at ano ba ang wholesale (price) [We will check if the retail price is correct and what the wholesale price is] then we investigate],” concluded Villar. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA to use satellite imaging on farms to improve crop insurance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) seeks to launch a program that would use satellite technology to improve crop insurance in the country.

Based on a Memorandum of Agreement signed on Monday (June 8), the program would provide satellite images for several crop farms in Nueva Ecija, Iloilo, and North Cotabato.

The project, with the initial funding support of P5 million, targets to provide satellite imaging for the 100,000 hectares planted with rice and 40,000 hectares planted with various crops within six months.

According to DA Secretary Willam Dar, the program aims to provide farmers with direct and targeted assistance to improve their productivity.

“The traditional source of information which relies heavily on fieldwork will be insufficient in the country. As we modernize our agriculture sector, we must continuously explore for relevant technology to increase sufficiency and productivity,” Dar said.

The program will also improve the DA’s disaster response, Dar added.

The MOA signing was witnessed by the Agriculture Secretary and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) President Atty. Jovy Bernabe. –AAC

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