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

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019   •   510

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.

Philippines now free of H5N6 bird flu – DA

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2021

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.

DA to distribute sows in an effort to augment pork supply

Marje Pelayo   •   January 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allotted P400-million for its program to help swine raisers in areas not affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF).

Through this program, the DA hopes to regulate the increasing price of pork due to scarcity caused by the ASF outbreak.

Recently, the price of pork in local markets rose up to P400 per kilogram.

“Ang objective po ng programang ito ay magbigay ng mga alagang baboy inahin at palakihin dun sa mga areas na free from ASF,” explained Executive Director Reildrin Morales of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).

“Kasama na rin po doon yung pakain sapagkat sa elevated response natin sa ASF ipagbabawal po natin pagpapakain ng kaning baboy sapagkat yan po ang isa talagang tinitignan nating dahil bakit kumalat ang ASF,” he added.

The DA, however, has not identified yet the beneficiary areas of the program and how many heads of swine will be distributed.

The Department is also launching the ‘Bantay ASF’ program which centers on recovery and repopulation of pigs.

“Isa po sa programa ng National Livestock Program ay doon sa mga free areas palakihin pa or i-expand natin ang pag aalaga ng baboy para suplayan ang pangangailangan natin,” Morales said.

“Doon naman sa mga area na tinamaan, tingnan natin kung how we will be able to recover the area at makapag umpisa ulit na mag alaga ng baboy,” he added.

Also, the DA is looking to further intensify the ban on ‘swill feeding’ which is believed to be the main reason for the quick spread of ASF.

Meanwhile, agriculture advocate Samahan ng Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG) is appealing to the agency to further intensify the implementation of strict border control and screening of imported meat into the country.

This is to make sure the entry of other animal diseases into the country particularly those that might affect the poultry industry.

“Ang solusyon talaga iyong borders entry natin. Iyon talaga ang dapat na suriin para at least magkaroon tayo ng peace of mind na mahinto ito,” appealed Rosendo So, the president of SINAG.

“Kasi hindi lang ito ang diseases na pwedeng pumasok. Ang other countries ay may Avian Influenza. So kung ito ay pumasok ulit at hindi natin makontrol pati yung chicken industry mamo-problema talaga,” he added.

The DA previously announced the establishment of first border inspection facility in major prots in the country to ensure that all imported agri products are safe and not contaminated by any virus from other countries. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Spike in prices of agriculture products ‘a cause of alarm’ — DA official

Marje Pelayo   •   January 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  Prices of agriculture products have gone high in local markets since the beginning of the year.

The price of pork belly, for instance, has shot up to almost P420 per kilogram almost double the suggested retail price of P260/kg to P280/kg.

“Sa price monitoring po natin ay mataas po talaga ang presyo ng ating mga agriculture commodities, mga gulay po. Nakita po natin ang pagtaas ng presyo (Based on our price monitoring, prices of agriculture commodities are indeed high. We observed a spike in prices),” explained Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista.

Ang baboy po at ang manok hindi pa rin po bumababa (The price of pork and chicken is still high). So (this is a) cause of alarm as far as price monitoring is concerned, ” she added.

DA said the reason could have been due to a scarcity in supply.

“Pagdating po sa pork at saka sa poultry meron po tayong mga livestock raisers na hindi po nagpatuloy ng kanilang negosyo. Either tinamaan po ng ASF, tinamaan ng bird flu (When it comes to hog and poultry raising, we have raisers who already quit the business. It’s either they were affected by ASF or bird flu),” Evangelista said.

“Bottom line is naging matumal ang kanilang negosyo (Bottom line is their business became slow),” Evangelista said.

As for vegetables, prices vary though there are some which are indeed high depending on the period of harvest.

Thus, the DA is mobilizing KADIWA Stores where consumers may buy agriculture commodities at a much lower price than the regular market. 

The challenge, however, is that retailers couldn’t just change and leave their former suppliers despite the increase in prices.

The Department is finding ways to help them find a new capital for their products.

“Obviously ang ating mga tindera sa palengke minsan may utang sa ‘5-6’, may utang sa kanilang supplier. So because of that wala silang choice kundi bumili ng mga mahal na gulay (Obviously, our retailers owe money from loan sharks and also from their suppliers. This leaves them with no choice but to accept the supply at a high price),” Asec. Evangelista said.

Meanwhile, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) warned that if the current problem with African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country’s hog industry is not solved, expect the price of meat to further surge.

“Kung ganun mangyayari, by mid of this year ang stocks natin galing Visayas na lang. Medyo magkakaroon ng problema. Malaki. (If that happens, by mid of this year, our stocks will only be coming from the Visayas. might face problems by mid of the year as stocks from Visayas. We might be a promblem. A big one),” noted SINAG President Rosendo So.

“Ngayon pa lang iyong galing Mindanao ang taas na. Nakikita natin na baka lalong sumipa pa yung presyo (As early as now, the price of supply from Mindanao is already high. We see that the price might even go much higher),” he added.

Based on data from the Bureau of Animal Industry, a total of 36 provinces in Luzon and Mindanao have reports of ASF infection.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, on the other hand, assured that the DA is exerting all efforts to further control the situation.

“Dadagdagan pa namin ang aming pagod at pagsusumikap para mas mapaigting pa yung mga quarantine protocols (We will work much harder to further intensify our protocols),” Dar said.

“Ang mga LGUs ang talagang gagalaw at magmomonitor agad-agad (LGUs shall work and monitor right away),” he concluded. —MNP (With reports from Rey Pelayo)

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