By URIEL C. QUILINGUING,
ASIDE from African swine fever scare, local government-imposed bans on the movement of pigs in Mindanao and Visayas and unregulated pork imports have compounded northern Mindanao pork industry losses to about P846,308,671 million in just a month.
“Any restriction in the transport of pigs within Visayas and Mindanao is uncalled for,” veterinarian Benjamin Albarece, who heads the Northern Mindanao Hog Raisers Association (Norminhog), told the Gold Star Daily Thursday.
Because of this, the 56,000 Norminhog members, both backyard and commercial raisers, not only find it hard to look for a market but also in recovering their investments after the farm-gate prices per kilo plunged to an average of P80 a kilo from P110 to P120 prior to the ASF outbreak.
Albarece said Mindanao and Visayas should be spared from trade restrictions on pig and pork products which took effect in Luzon Sept. 9, immediately after the agriculture department confirmed pork meat specimens from Montalvan, Rizal were positive of ASF virus.
Mindanao and Visayas account for 35 to 40 percent of the country’ P300-billion industry, according to the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc..
The Norminhog head said their supply to Mindanao and Visayas markets is constant, yet this cannot easily be absorbed because the Department of Agriculture continues to allow pork imports.
Meanwhile, the Department of Interior and Local Government Tuesday this week issued a memorandum circular urging local governments to allow the distribution and sale of meat products that contain pork in all provinces as long as these are certified by the Food and Drugs Authority.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año asked the local governments to stop the unwanted disruption of trade and commerce and protect the consumers and industry stakeholders amid the implementation measures against the spread of ASF.
As of Thursday, 56 of 81 provinces have imposed a ban on the transport of live pigs and pork products to their respective geographic boundaries. None of them has lifted the ban because of the DILG memorandum.
Among local governments in Visayas who have imposed a temporary ban of pork and pork products are Aklan, Bohol, Cebu City, Iloilo, Mandaue, Negros Occidental. Those in Mindanao include Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Cagayan de Oro.