MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is now free of Avian Influenza (AI) or bird flu, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Tuesday.
In a statement, the DA announced that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) declared the country free of the last remaining A(H5N6) strain of Avian Influenza on January 8, 2021.
The department said the country was able to resolve the outbreaks of AI A(H5N6) in a commercial layer poultry farm in Pampanga, and backyard poultry farms in a village in Rizal, in less than a year after the poultry virus reemerged in the country.
In its report to the OIE, the DA Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said the affected farms showed no further evidence of the presence of the AI virus during the monitoring and surveillance.
“We had not detected any case of AI A(H5N6) among the poultry and other bird population in the last 90 days after the completion of cleaning and disinfection in the affected farms, surveillance and monitoring, and completion of the 35-day restocking period with sentinel animals in Pampanga and Rizal,” the DA-BAI said.
The recurrence of A(H5N6) was confirmed by the DA-BAI Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory on July 10, 2020, after the owner of the commercial layer farm notified the Pampanga provincial veterinary office about the sudden drop in egg production, cyanosis (dark bluish or purplish coloration of the skin and mucous membranes in chickens), and mortalities.
Another case was detected in Rizal, as reported by a farmer on August 26, 2020, to the municipal veterinary office of Taytay.
The backyard farm had approximately 500 heads of free-range chicken and 300 heads of Muscovy ducks. The clinical signs — such as wry neck or torticollis, cyanosis of extremities — and death were observed since August 10, 2020.
As a result of the swift action of the farm owners, sanitary control and containment operations to prevent the further spread of the virus were carried out immediately, the DA said.
“We appreciate the rapid response and collaboration of the local government units of Pampanga and Rizal and DA Regional Field Offices III and IV-A,” the DA-BAI said.
The agency also thanked the affected farmers — for their prompt reporting that led to the early containment of the disease — the poultry stakeholders, and partners from the Department of Health for extending support to the prevention and control of AI.
To recall, the Philippines also resolved the outbreak cases in 2017 and in 2018.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said this is a welcome development considering that poultry meat is a highly popular animal protein source among Filipinos, like pork and beef.
“I congratulate the DA-BAI and the local governments of Pampanga and Rizal, whose swift action resulted in limiting the further spread of the AI A(H5N6) strain to other areas,” Dar said.
The DA-BAI, however, reminds poultry farmers and industry stakeholders to remain vigilant and report any unusual mortalities to their respective farm veterinarians or nearest government veterinary or agriculture office.
This is in support of the Duterte government’s initiative to revitalize hog production amid the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic.
During its regular meeting on Wednesday (February 24), the PCIC Board of Directors approved the DA proposal to pay losses resulting from government-ordered culling or slaughter of insured hogs.
Likewise, the Board agrees to raise the payable amount up to 100 percent of the insurance cover or the total sum insured.
The move is expected to help encourage the raising of over 10 million heads of swine among commercial and backyard raisers.
The stocks to be insured will be a mix of fatteners and breeders, including grandparent stock, among the commercial raisers; and fatteners and breeders, among the backyard raisers.
“Backyard hog raisers currently receive free insurance, provided they are listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), the country’s database of bona fide subsistence farmers and fisherfolk. But they will be covered by the relaxed provision on indemnity payment and culling or emergency slaughter,” the DA further said.
“Moreover, the Board directed the PCIC to increase the number of backyard hog raisers to be provided insurance coverage,” it added.
The agriculture department guarantees that these enhanced insurance policy features for the swine industry “will remain in place until such time that the industry shall have stabilized or a vaccine or other veterinary solutions will have been developed for ASF.”
Consistent with the DA policy, the PCIC will require commercial and backyard raisers to adhere to prescribed biosafety protocols, such as cleaning, disinfecting, and training in biosafety measures.
This protocol is contained in the DA Administrative Order No. 6, issued on February 6, 2021, entitled “Guidelines on the Implementation of the Recovery, Rehabilitation and Repopulation Assistance Program for ASF-affected and Non-ASF Affected Areas.”
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
MANILA, Philippines — Meat dealers and vendors at Commonwealth Market agreed to not sell pork starting Monday (February 22).
They said it is not because they are protesting against the government but because of income loss due to the implementation of the price cap on pork.
“Lahat tayo namomroblema kung saan tayo kukuha ng baboy ngayon. Mayroon naman, sobrang taas. Lalong hindi natin masusunod yung P270 na iyan. Ngayon ano magiging solusyon natin? Ito. Nagpapaalam tayo sa administrator natin na hindi muna tayo magtitinda,” said Toto Rillo, a meat vendor.
Vendors argued that up to present, they still get pork at a higher price and not all of them are able to recieve from deliveries provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) coming from other parts of the country.
“Paano naman kami? Ubos na ang puhunan namin at wala na kaming ipapaubos kasi ubos na. Yan ang totoo. Magpakatotoo tayo. Nagbibigay tayo ng 270 peso negative,” argued Norma Noma, also a meat dealer.
What they appeal is for DA to increase the price cap to at least P330 per kilogram that is effective in the entire Luzon region.
They also argued against reports that some supplies that are supposedly for Metro Manila are diverted to other provinces where they can be sold at the much higher price.
This shouldn’t be the case, they said, as the government even provided transportation subsidy for the supplies to reach Metro Manila.
According to DA, they are now investigating the matter while the agency is studying the possibility of implementing the price cap to the whole of Luzon.
“Susundan natin yung pagdating mismo ng shipment. Pupuntahan yan ng ating enforcement (team),” said DA Undersecretary Ernesto Gonzales.
“Susundan iyan hanggang sa slaughter house. Kung ilalabas yan, hindi nila matatanggap yung subsidy,” he added.-MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
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