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

Marje Pelayo   •   January 4, 2019   •   4685

 

MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol appeals to the public to patronize local pork and pork-based products amid the dangers of African Swine Fever (ASF) that is currently affecting large pig farms not only in China but in other countries across the globe.

“The world hog industry is faced with a threat by a disease called the African Swine Fever,” the Secretary said on his social media account.

“I am appealing to consumers to buy pork and pork-based products produced by local farmers. This will be the first time I will make this appeal to Filipino consumers, meat importers, government policy makers and agriculture stakeholders because we are facing a grave danger which could destroy the Philippine livestock industry,” he added.

In August 2018, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has imposed a ban on the entry of pork and pork-based products from at least 13 countries:

  1. Belgium
  2. Bulgaria
  3. China
  4. Czec Republic
  5. Hungary
  6. Latvia
  7. Moldova
  8. Poland
  9. Romania
  10. Russia
  11. South Africa
  12. Ukraine
  13. Zambia

Secretary Piñol also asked returning residents and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), especially those from countries affected by the ASF “not to bring in pork or pork-based products including ham, bacon and others.”

On Friday (January 4), the Agriculture Secretary sacked the entire Quarantine team at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for not instituting his order to install footbaths due to procurement issues.

“Halimbawa nakapasok. Anong impact noon? Sisirain natin ang buong industriya simply because sasabihin mo sa akin na “Wala pa po kasi kaming procurement”. Napakadali namang gawin iyon na gaumawa ka lang ng basang sako diyan ilagay mo diyan sa (sahig) pwede na,” he argued.

According to www.pigprogess.net, a key source of information for pig and pork production industry in the world, ASF has so far infected one of the largest pig farms in China located in northern Heilongjiang province, a facility that houses 73,654 pigs.

Screenshot from Pig Progress website

The website explains that African Swine Fever virus is “one of the most important diseases of pigs and the identification of the disease in a country normally results in the suspension of exports of pigs and pig products.”

It is highly contagious and the infection spreads rapidly from pig to pig usually from infected discharges and feces as well as by the consumption of infected meat.

The disease is “extremely resistant to putrefaction and sunlight, and can persist in refrigerated meat and carcasses for up to 6 months and for much longer when frozen.”

The effect of the disease on human health is still unknown. – Marje Pelayo

 

 

 

34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

Farmers to lose P114-B a year if farm gate price of palay remains low — Piñol

Marje Pelayo   •   July 17, 2019

Rice farmers in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Local farmers may lose up to P114 billion if the farm gate price of fresh palay remains low, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

At present, the price of palay ranges only from P12/kg to P14/kg which is lower than the P20/kg, the price that was in effect before the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law (RTL) in March.

Secretary Piñol noted that traders earn huge income from the liberalization of rice importation.

He also pointed out that the landed cost of rice is only a small amount like those which are imported from Myanmar which is only P18/kg.

Because the new law stripped off National Food Authority’s (NFA) regulatory function, traders have become aggressive in pushing for more importation.

“Masyadong ganadong mag-import yung mga trader right now kasi feeling nila wala ng magko-control sa presyo ng bentahan ng bigas sa palengke. So napakalaki ng margin of profit nila, (Traders have become more aggressive to import because they believe nobody else will control the pricing of rice in local markets so their margin of profit is increasing),” the Agriculture chief said.

Based on the Department of Agriculture’s monitoring, rice prices at present ranges from P32/kg up to P70/kg with only about P1 to P2 drop per kilogram.

This is about a quarter of the expected reduction in the price of commercial rice in relation to the implementation of the rice tariffication law which is supposedly P7/kg.

The Department is set to implement the suggested retail price (SRP) on commercial rice starting next week which ranges from P35/kg to P38/kg.

“We would like to address the greed of some importers doon sa markup nilang napakalaki (regarding their very high markup) by setting a cap on the selling price of imported rice

The official said the implementation of the SRP is based on the Price Act wherein violators may be fined.

The NFA already implemented the SRP on rice in the past but it was invalidated due to the implementation of the RTL.

Piñol said that the law did not specify a limit on the amount of rice that the country may import.

However, it gives the President the authority to increase tariff in the event of oversupply. – with details from Rey Pelayo

Murad approves of Piñol as Duterte’s ‘point man’ in BARMM

Marje Pelayo   •   July 12, 2019

Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed on Thursday (July 11) that Chief Minister Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has approved the transfer of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol to head the Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA).

The agreement transpired during Murad’s meeting with the President on Wednesday (July 10).

The President vouched for Piñol as he said he needs someone to be his ‘point man’ in the region.

“(We are trying to) fine tune. The truth of the matter is I really transferred Piñol to assist them. Hindi naman to husbandry,” the President said.

“Wala akong point man doon na tagaroon, doon pinanganak, doon lumaki, farmer, became governor (I don’t have a point man there who was born and raised there, someone who’s a farmer and has served as governor),” he added.

“I’m sure he can help the BARMM and the government to fast track. I am most interested na makita na ng Moro people ang hinihingi nila (for the Moro people to see what they asked for),” Duterte explained, adding that aside from Murad, the other BARMM ministers also said ‘yes’ to the proposal. – with reports from Rosalie Coz

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