The Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) has blamed government’s lax policy for the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), as the virus has spread to 460 towns and 54 provinces.
Based on data from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) as of April 3, only 20 provinces are still ASF-free, including Batanes, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan Romblon, Masbate, Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Biliran, Bukidnon, Misamis Occidental, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
“The measures have to be effective. The problem in the Philippines, we are very lax. There is a lot of leakage that goes on, so basically, people don’t follow the rules. They make a lot of alibis. It is very difficult to contain ASF,” MITA president Jesus Cham said.
Unlike the Philippines, the campaign against ASF is working in Europe, according to Cham. “In Europe, farms are protected. Although ASF is found in the wild and in certain farms, if you are able to control it and keep it from coming in, they are able to protect their farms. Let’s take the case of Belgium, they found ASF in the forest and the virus is not able to enter the commercial farms,” he added.
Cham suggested that government form clusters among backyard farms and build biosecurity measures.
He noted that the Department of Agriculture and the BAI have failed to eradicate ASF since its first outbreak in 2019.
Farmers’ group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) executive director Jayson Cainglet said the DA has stopped providing indemnification, forcing backyard farmers not to report ASF cases. He also accused the DA of favoring meat importers.
Negros Island is fortunate to have avoided ASF infections thus far, but given the situation in the country, it would be best to double our defenses to ensure the continued protection of our P6 billion hog industry. Increased biosecurity at all levels, from the island’s ports of entry, to coastlines, all the way to the walls of commercial and backyard piggeries, will be absolutely necessary in the coming days and even years, as the country will continue to struggle to eliminate ASF, which remains a concern even in other more advanced nations whose defenses have been beaten by the virus as well.*