DA to probe how ASF reached Davao Occidental

Maris Federez   •   February 4, 2020   •   961

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to conduct an investigation that will trace how the African Swine Fever (ASF) reached the province of Davao Occidental.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that Davao Occidental is an isolated location and it seemed very unlikely that the deadly swine disease could reach the province.

“If you know Davao Occidental, it’s such in an isolated coastal area. You cannot understand why the virus proceeded there […] So the theories are being investigated,” Dar said.

From the swine population of 13,000 in the town of Don Marcelino, 1,000 have either died or were slaughtered due to the disease.

Dar said the provincial government will buy the rest of the swine that are not yet affected by the virus to prevent it from spreading further.

Aside from Don Marcelino, the DA is also monitoring the nearby town of Malita.

“Kung hindi maganda ang pagka depopulate, the chances of the virus escaping from that ground zero to new outbreak areas within Don Marcelino will be there,” the DA chief said.

According to the DA, around 200,000 pigs had either died or had been killed due to the spread of the ASF in Luzon.

The DA admitted that the ASF was not completely stopped and this is because of pork smuggling, procurement of infected pigs by traders, and failure to report about infected pigs to authorities.

Ang Pilipino masyadong smart. Mag-declare ng iba’t-ibang product hindi naman pala tomato paste or vermicelli. That’s the trend, it continues up until today. Nasa loob-looban yung karneng baboy, pork products and the like,” Dar said.

To assist hog-raisers in Don Marcelino which is now placed under a state of calamity, the DA said it will pay up to P5,000 per pig within the 1-kilometer radius from the area where the ASF was discovered.

A loan of P30,000 per hog raiser is also available to help them recover from their loss. —(from the report of Rey Pelayo) /mbmf

Hontiveros urges DA to focus on ramping up efforts vs ASF instead of price caps

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus its efforts on preventing the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) instead of imposing price ceilings.

“The government should instead channel its efforts to bring credibility to testing, reporting, and responding to local outbreaks, among others. Hindi na nakakatulong ang ipinataw nilang price control (imposing price control is not helping), so let’s look deeper than the surface,” the senator said.

Hontiveros noted that the DA is already boosting local hog supply by distributing mother pigs and feeds to ASF-cleared areas, however, hog raisers still fear subsequent waves of infection.

Instead of repopulation plans, Hontiveros said the DA should also teach hog raisers preventive measures to protect livestock from ASF. She added that the price cap is making it almost impossible for vendors to recover from the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and ASF.

“Nakararanas tayo ng ‘Twindemic’ —pandemya ng COVID-19 at epidemya ng ASF. Kambal din ang dagok sa ating magbababoy na nalubog pa dahil sa itinakdang price ceiling (We are experiencing a ‘Twindemic’—COVID-19 pandemic and the ASF epidemic. Our hog raisers are also experiencing twin challenges due to the price ceiling),” the senator said.

Hontiveros also proposed to revoke the imposed price ceiling to help affected producers and retailers recover from their losses.

“Dumadaing na ang ating producers at retailers. Ilang eksperto na ang tumutol sa pagpapatupad ng price ceiling. Bawiin na sana ito para makabawi naman sa lugi ang ating mga kababayan (Our producers and retailers are complaining. Several experts have already expressed opposition to implementation of a price ceiling. It should be revoked for the sake of our fellowmen),” she added. AAC 

PH gov’t to tackle supply woes in food security summit – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   February 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The executive branch of the government has called for a food security summit to discuss current issues affecting the agriculture industry, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the summit aims to tackle mitigation measures on issues affecting the sector such as the surge in pork prices, drop in farmgate prices of palay, and the outbreak of the African Swine Fever (ASF).

“The Executive branch is calling for a Food Security Summit, with the Department of Agriculture (DA) as lead agency, to continue to boost and develop the agri-fishery sector through the cooperation, coordination and collaboration of the local government units (LGUs) and the private sector’s industry players and stakeholders,” Roque said in a statement.

The food security summit also seeks to present some models for the agribusiness value-chain approach, LGU-led agri-fishery extension system, and strengthening the role and capacities of local price coordinating councils and regional development councils.

“As part of the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s whole-of-government approach, the summit aims to develop a National Food Security Plan to achieve our vision of a food-secure and the resilient Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolks, and where consumers have a continuous flow of food and producers have continuous productivity, unhampered movement of agricultural commodities, accessibility and price stability,” Roque said.

The Palace issued the statement after the Pork Producers’ Federation of the Philippines appealed to the government for a dialogue to address the problem in the supply of pork and chicken that resulted in the increase in prices of pork and chicken meat products.

President Duterte earlier issued an executive order setting a 60-day price ceiling on pork and chicken sold in Metro Manila due to the effects of the ASF outbreak that affected many hog farms in Luzon.

The Department of Agriculture also implemented a transportation subsidy for pork supply from Visayas and Mindanao areas, as well as in other parts of Luzon to help address tight supply.

Meat vendors eye ‘pork, chicken holiday’ amid 60-day price cap

Marje Pelayo   •   February 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The implementation of the 60-day price ceiling on pork and chicken products in Metro Manila will take effect on Monday (February 8).

However, several stakeholders in the hog industry fear the possible impact of the price cap on their livelihoods. 

Some retailers in Metro Manila would rather stop selling pork and chicken meat if they have very little to gain from the price freeze.

Under the executive order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, prices of kasim/pigue should be at P270 per kilogram, liempo should be at P300 per kilogram, and dressed chicken at P160 per kilogram for 60 days.

“Mahihirapan kami kasi mataas pa po ang kuha namin. Papaano pa namin maibaba ang benta kung mataas ang puhunan? Maaring ma-bankrupt kami. Maaring huminto muna kami kung di aayos ang presyo,” said pork retailer Zenaida Flores.

Chicken retailer, Tata Capili also voiced the same concern: “Hindi namin kayang tuparin ang sinasabi nilang P160/kg. Napakataas ng puhunan ng manok. Malaking epekto sa amin.”

Meanwhile, a group of traders denied allegations that they are manipulating pork prices.

The Manila Meat Dealers Association said that they are using the same pricing formula they have always used long before the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

“Ang P60 na patong namin wala pang ASF ganyan na ang formula namin, so hindi kami nagmanipulate,” said Ricardo Chan, the group’s representative.

“Hindi kami nagsamantala nitong ASF na ito. Ang nagsamantala ay ang mga hog raisers komo nga sa supply and demand,” he added.

He also said that farmgate prices of hogs have already decreased.

“From P250 na farmgate nila, ngayon nasa P200 na lang. So P50 na ang ibinaba nila. Although hindi pa rin sapat iyon para maibenta ng P270 per kilo ang baboy na price ceiling natin,” Chan said.

Meanwhile, hog raisers insist that the scarcity of supply and high cost of inputs are the main reasons for the price hike.

They noted that 40% of the 13 million hog population in the country is already gone due the effects of ASF outbreak.

“Kaya ito nangyayari (ay) may shortage. Wala iyong sinasabi ni Secretary [William] Dar na merong hoarders, may manipulators,” said Nick Briones, the vice president of the Pork Producers Federation Inc.

Based on their estimation, pork prices should range from P340 to P360 per kilogram.

“Ang inaalala namin pag dating ng Lunes baka matakot yung ating mga retailers, traders na magbenta kasi malulugi sila. Baka hindi na sila magbenta. Iyon ang problema,” Briones concluded. MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)

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