DA intensifies border control amid African Swine Fever scare

Marje Pelayo   •   April 5, 2019   •   2926

FILE PHOTO: Pigs are seen in a piggery at a village near Warsaw April 10, 2014. Poland has asked the European Union to intervene in a spat over Russia banning imports of Polish pork and says that the case could be taken up by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Russia suspended imports in February, citing concerns that cases of African swine fever among wild boars in Poland could spread to farmed pigs. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel (POLAND – Tags: ANIMALS HEALTH POLITICS BUSINESS)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines intensifies its border control against the entry of meat products from Cambodia and other countries that currently declared African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.

The World Animal Health Organization or OIE has confirmed the ASF outbreak in Cambodia, the second Southeast Asian country to be affected by the deadly swine disease.

This was revealed by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on the sidelines of the 28th National Hog Convention and Trade Exhibits on Thursday (April 4).

In his Facebook page, the Agriculture Secretary said a total of 15 meat-sniffing dogs, all German Shepherds, will be stationed in areas before the Customs counter of the International airports starting this weekend.

To be commissioned by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), the initial batch of service dogs are all from Talisay City, Negros Occidental K9 Field of Dreams.

Meanwhile, another 40 dogs are now being trained for meat sniffing and will be deployed in two months, according to Secretary Piñol.

Cambodia will join 15 other countries banned from shipping meat products to the Philippines, with the most recent prohibitions from Vietnam and Mongolia. – Marje Pelayo

READ: Filipinos urged to buy local pork products amid fears of African Swine Fever

Agriculture Dept. wants bigger budget for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture is proposing a P284.4 billion budget for 2021, more than thrice its current budget of P79.9 billion, to fund its programs.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the proposal during a teleconference with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food on Wednesday.

Dar said the proposed budget would be used to bankroll its existing and new projects – P61.8 billion and P222 billion, respectively – for the year 2021.

“The agri-fishery sector, for the longest time, has been a ‘sleeping giant’ of the national economy, whose vast potentials remain largely untapped to achieve higher and sustainable growth,” Dar said.

“While the agriculture sector contributes about 10 percent (%) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it gets a measly share of total national appropriations, at three to five percent in the last 10 years,” he added.

The Agriculture chief said the sector will continue to perform poorly if it is not given the proper financial support.

“If we were to ensure that agriculture contributes its full potentials in the country’s economic recovery in the ‘new normal,’ we need to augment the DA budget,” Dar said.

If approved, the DA said the budget will be used to further increase the production of major commodities for next year. For the rice sector, the department proposes a budget allocation of P56 billion; P22.5 billion for fisheries; P13.75 billion for high-value crops; P11.25 billion for livestock; and P6.6 billion for corn.

The department also plans to spend P130 billion to bankroll locally-funded projects, construction of farm-to-market roads, implementation of national soil health, and young farmers’ programs; P7.15 billion as counterpart for foreign-assisted projects such as the Philippine Rural Development Project; P3 billion on market development services; and P960.4 million on organic agriculture.

“In all, the budget is intended to sustain, reboot, and grow the Philippine agriculture and fisheries sector, amid the challenges brought by the pandemic and into the ‘new normal’,” Dar said.

Quezon Province First District Representative Wilfrido Mark Enverga, who headed the committee, said at the hearing that Dar’s request is just a ‘wish list’ at the moment given the magnitude of the budget proposal.

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)

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