TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol Nov. 23 (PIA) -- With the whole swine industry of Luzon affected by African Swine Fever (ASF) and the high farm gate price of live hogs and pork meat there, Bohol authorities are seeing an opportunity of supplying Luzon with the much-needed pork meat for the Christmas season.
Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz, during the recent meeting of the ASF Provincial Executive Council held at the Reception Hall of the Office of the Provincial Administrator at the new Capitol, shared that while Bohol sells live hogs at P100 to P115 per kilo, farm gate price in Luzon for the same is priced at P200 to P230.
When pork meat is sold at P170 to P197 a kilo, the same sells at P340 to P360 in Luzon.
This is because with the current ASF outbreak in Luzon, farm owners are forced to cull their stocks to make sure the virus could not contaminate more farms and lay to waste Luzon's multi-billion peso industry.
ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs of all ages.
While not a threat to human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans, the disease can decimate hog populations in a place, causing billions in losses.
First reported in some backyard farms in Luzon in September 2019, ASF has spread nearly all over Luzon and is affecting pig farms in Bicol.
It could not be long before the virus could cross to the Visayas, if the biosecurity measures that local government authorities have put up in defense of the viral animal disease fail.
As early as February 2020, ASF cases have also been reported in southern Mindanao and have slowly crossed its way to northern Mindanao.
SAFEGUARDING BOHOL'S HOG INDUSTRY. Bohol ASF Executive Council hold a meeting to draft travel protocols for hogs and their vehicles to make sure that when the hog vans come back, these do not carry with them the virus which can be transmitted through dried feces that can get stuck in the crevices of the transport trucks. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)
Recently, suspected cases have been reported in Bukidnon and Iligan City, although there have been no confirmation as the suspected incidents surfaced.
As for Bohol, the Provincial ASF Executive Council in partnership with large farm owners have put up its own biosecurity measures, of which most important among them is Bohol's series of Executive Orders banning the entry of live hogs, pork meat in raw or processed products and pork by-products in a bid to safeguard Bohol's multi-million backyard hog industry and the island safe from the contagious viral disease.
The over-all after effect, coupled with the COVID-19 travel restrictions, has resulted in slow animal movement, which Lapiz presented in a chart.
In 2017, for example, Bohol was able to ship 47,747 heads of live hogs, 29,409 heads in 2019, and only about 10,902 in 2020.
Had it not been for the closure of tourism establishments, Bohol's unshipped supply could have been consumed easily.
But the reduced demand brought about by the closure of tourism sites, banned fiesta festivities, and the lowered purchasing power due to job displacements have forced farm owners to sell out or endure the high feed costs.
The situation also pushed several backyard growers to sell cheap than keep feeding without sure markets.
But while entry of live hogs, pork meat, and its byproducts have been banned, there have been no restrictions in Bohol's shipping out of live hogs to respond to the demand in Luzon and with the Mindanao supply now suspect.
The opportunity to ship out live hogs to Luzon could solve local problems, but Lapiz added that Bohol needs to put up measures to keep the province safe.
"We need to help out farmers stay afloat and make their decision to take on the swine industry profitable, instead of just salvaging their stocks in time of the ASF," Lapiz said.
To help them, the provincial council is drafting guidelines for hog transport outside the province, one that could put up a security perimeter to keep Bohol's swine industry alive, and the farmers sustaining the food security of the country. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)