P15-M worth of onions rot in Nueva Ecija storage facility

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 7, 2019   •   2020

Rotten…not rotten.

Instead of counting earnings from their harvest, several farmers in a number of warehouses in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija count what’s left of their produce to sell after more than 30,000 bags of red and white onions had rotted in some cold storage facilities.

Rotten, not rotten—they segregate. They were supposed to sell them this August but to their dismay, they found most of the onions kept in the storage are already spoiled.

Around P15 million market value was lost due to the incident.

Jayson Leonardo from the Bongabon Municipal Agriculture Office speculates that the onions may have had defects even before they were put in storage.

“Una po iyong quality ng sibuyas sakto po ba iyong maturity ng ating sibuyas. Then noong ipinasok po ba ay wala po bang prevalence ng sakit ng fungi atsaka po siguro pwede rin natin i-consider iyong quality po ng storage na pinapasukan (First would be the quality of the onions. Were they matured enough? When they were put it in storage, were there no prevalence of fungi? We can also consider the quality of the storage itself),” he said.

There is also a possibility, Leonardo added, that traders kept the onions inside cold storage facilities for too long to increase its value.

Affected farmers and traders sought aid from the Department of Agriculture (DA) due to the huge losses they sustained from the rotten onions.

“Talagang sobrang lugi na po iyong mga traders ng sibuyas at sigurado po ang maaapektuhan dito ay mga farmers. Halos sa ngayon wala nang puhunan, hindi po nababalik ang puhunan ng mga traders sa mga nag-stock o naglagay po sa storage (The onion traders really had huge losses and this affects the farmers. There is almost no profit, there’s no return of investment for the traders who put stocks in the storage),” Gregorio Pessa said, one of the traders.

This is the second time that an incident involving spoiled onions in cold storage facilities had occurred since 2002.

The UNTV news team in Nueva Ecija asked the cold storage management for a comment but they refused.

The management said they have already submitted a report to the Bureau of Plants and Industry (BPI) about the incident. —AAC (with reports from Danny Munar)

ERRATUM: A previous version of this article stated that the cold storage facilities were located in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija. For clarification, the facilities are located in Palayan City.

FDA must tighten regulations on processed meat – DA

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Regulations on processed meat such as well-loved Filipino delicacies tocino and longganisa should be tightened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

According to Agriculture Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs Ernesto Gonzales, consumers cannot be complacent on buying these processed products especially if they are not sure of the source or origin of the raw meat.

Gonzales added that it is difficult to determine if the pork meat is contaminated with African Swine Fever (ASF) once it is processed.

He added that even ‘botcha’ or double-dead pork meat can be made into meat delicacies without the consumer noticing it because of colorings and extenders used in the process.

The official said the best way to determine if the pork meat is safe for consumption is to know the source of the raw meat, and if it is certified by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).

Kapag na-issue-han na ang karne from slaughterhouse ng meat inspection certificate (once meat from the slaughterhouse is issued with meat inspection certificate), definitely that meat is safe to eat,” Gonzales said.

However, the DA admitted that the government is lacking when it comes to regulations on processed meat so the coordination of the local government units (LGUs) is of utmost importance.

Iyang problema natin yung mga maliliit na food processors na gumagawa ng mga longanisa, tocino, ang regulation hindi ganoon ka-strict ( The problem with small-time food processors or makers of longanisa and tocino is that the regulation is not that strict), ” Gonzales noted.

If ever the processed meat is infected with ASF, Gonzales said, it is still safe to eat, provided that it went through the proper cooking procedure of 30 minutes under 70’C temperature. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Zubiri calls on DA, other agencies to act faster in containing ASF spread

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday (Sept. 16) called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other concerned government agencies to move faster in containing the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in hog farms in the country.

Zubiri made the appeal after the DA confirmed that the ASF caused the deaths of swine in several areas in Bulacan and Rizal provinces.

READ: DA, BAI confirm ASF outbreak, call on public to help prevent spread of pig disease

“Ako po ay lubos na nababahala sa pagpasok ng African Swine Fever sa ating bansa bagamat hindi pa natutukoy kung anong strain ang tumama sa ating swine population,” the senator said in a statement.

(I am very much worried over the entry of the African Swine Fever in the country although we have yet to determine the kind of strain that hit our swine population.)

Zubiri also recalled issuing a warning to agency officials about the possible spread of the swine disease during a hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture and food on the ASF in March.

He also recommended during the said hearing the implementation of tighter monitoring and security measures in the country’s sea and airports to prevent the entry of ASF into the country.

“Noong Marso 20 ng taong ito ay pinamunuan natin ang Committee hearing ng Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food kung saan kung saan sinabi ko na — that the damage and economic losses caused by the recent water crisis in some parts of Metro Manila would be incomparable to the havoc and economic losses the ASF could bring into the whole country if ever this epidemic will reach our shores. So, we must not let our guard down, this is a very serious concern,” he said.

“Hiniling din natin na kung maaari ay mag-impose ng total ban sa importation ng pork mula sa ibang bansa. Subalit nakapasok pa rin sa bansa ang ASF. Gusto ko pong malaman ano po ang nangyari? Naging maluwag ba tayo sa pagbabantay?” he added.

“Ngayong andito na sa bansa ang ASF, nais natin na mas higpitan ng DA at iba pang ahensya ng pamahalaan at ng publiko ang pagbabantay at pag-contain nito upang di na kumalat pa sa ibang probinsya o lugar sa bansa. Kailangan nating paigtingin ang bio-security ng ating mga swine farms at wag na po sanang magdala ang ating mga kababayan ng mga pork products mula sa ASF affected countries.” Zubiri further said.

The Philippines’ swine industry is the sixth biggest in the world.

According to Zubiri, most of these hog raisers are backyard growers whose losses will be devastating if the government failed to contain the spread of ASF in the country.

“Let’s save our hog industry especially the backyard raisers,” he said.

DA Secretary William Dar earlier said that the pig virus has already been contained in Barangay Pritil and Guiguinto in Bulacan as well as in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.

He also stressed that the outbreak is not affecting the entire country, thus, he appeals to the public as well as the media not to ignite fear as unverified and unvalidated reports could create irreversible damage to the country’s hog industry which is also the source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

City gov’t seeks probe on illegal dumping of dead pigs in Marikina River

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2019

A pig carcass found floating in Marikina River | Photo from Marikina City Public Information Office

MANILA – The city government of Marikina is coordinating with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the conduct of immediate investigation in relation to the illegal dumping of dead pigs in Marikina River amid the African Swine Fever (ASF) scare.

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said Monday (September 16) that such illegal and improper disposal of dead pigs into the waterways is a violation of the Clean Water Act and Sanitation Code.

“Hindi naman nila kasalanan (na) namatayan sila. Ang kasalanan doon, iyong maling pag-dispose nitong mga patay na katawan ng baboy (It’s not their fault that (the pigs) died. What’s unacceptable is the improper disposal of pig carcasses),” the Mayor said in an interview.

“May proper procedure iyan. Ibinabaon ng malalim, dini-disinfect para hindi kumalat ang virus (There is a proper procedure for that. You bury it deep then disinfect to prevent the spread of the virus),” he added.

Marcelino added that they are now coordinating with the Rizal Provincial Government to determine the origin of the dead pigs.

He stressed, however, that definitely the dead hogs could not have come from Marikina as backyard hog raising is strictly not allowed in the city.

“Wala namang piggery dito sa Marikina at matagal na sa ating ipinagbawal iyang pag-aalaga ng baboy sa likuran ng bahay (There are no piggeries here in Marikina and we have long banned hog raising in backyards),” the Mayor noted.

On Friday (September 13), Mayor Marcelino personally inspected the Marikina River following recovery of more than 50 dead pigs in the city’s main waterway.

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