By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM and SHIELA MAE BUTLIG
SECURING Northern Mindanao’s hog industry and protecting it from the onslaught of the African Swine Fever (ASF) is of utmost importance, said an official of the Department of Agriculture here Friday.
“It’s important that we secure our region from the outbreak of the ASF,” said Juliet Araos, DA regulatory division chief for Region 10 during a press conference called by the capitol.
Araos said the spread of the deadly virus that can infect and kill swine in a matter of days can be slowed down as the country is archipelagic.
Although the ASF has not reached Mindanao, agriculture officials are not taking any chances as points of entry to the island are being closely monitored.
Dr. Leo Mira, officer of the Bureau of Animal Industry’s regional veterinary quarantine services, said the government has stepped up their monitoring of incoming hogs, pork products and byproducts from other areas, whether local or imported.
All entry points in Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro like the Macabalan port, Laguindingan airport, Mindanao International Container Port in Tagoloan town, and Lugait and Magsaysay towns are now being guarded, said Mira.
Those most likely affected if the ASF reaches Mindanao are the hog farmers.
Robert Uy, a hog raiser in Northern Mindanao, said since they have biosecurity measures in place in their farm facilities, they are confident their livestock would not be easily infected.
Their concern though is the lowering of the farm gate price of hogs. The average price for a live swine is P125 per kilo but due to the ASF scare, it plunged to P95 per kilo.
But, Uy said, it has not yet affected their production on a large scale.
Uy said those most vulnerable of the ASF are the backyard hog growers who feed their swine with “swill” or food scraps.
“Commercial hog raisers give their livestock with feeds while our backyard counterparts, with swill. We urge them to cook the swill for at least an hour before feeding to kill the bacteria,” he said.
At the weekly “Farmers’ Market” at the capitol grounds, about 200 kilograms of pork were grilled and then given to people.
Provincial veterinarian Benjamin Resma said is “to prove that our pigs and pork are safe and are free from the African Swine Fever.”
On Thursday, Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano issued an executive order banning pigs, pork products and byproducts from entering the province, especially those coming from areas with ASF infestation.
The executive order also activated a task force that would implement the ban. It has been tasked to inspect and coordinate with other government agencies to ensure no pigs and pork products from ASF-infected areas would enter Misamis Oriental.
The DA and other concerned government offices in the region are all on preventive mode despite the assurance that no hog or pork products would come out of ASF-affected Rizal and Bulacan, said Araos.
“Dili kagawas sa Rizal ug sa Bulacan kay declare sila nga positive,” she said.
Araos said DA has gone strict with hogs, pork and processed pork products.
“Dapat makapakita ug insakto nga mga documents. Dapat naa silay accreditation sa planta or sa manufacturing plant, dapat naay documentation nga dala, dapat naay shipping permit,” she said.
Shipping permits would be required, said Araos, because these mean that the hogs or products were already inspected.
Canned goods, she said, need to be supported by papers from the Food and Drug Administration.
“Ibawal sa gyud nang mga processed food nga walay mga papel,” said Araos, adding that everything confiscated would be burned.
Araos said that while the ASF doesn’t affect humans, it is incurable, highly contagious and deadly to pigs. “Di gyud siya matambalan. Ang iyang symptoms taas iyang hilanat, di siya ganahan mukaon, hemorrhagic… naay mga dugo, dayon mag pantal-pantal, mag-reddish iyang lawas,” she said.