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Strict biosecurity needed versus ASF

The Philippines needs to improve its risk management standards and sustainability measures so hog raisers can survive and thrive amid the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak, an official says*

An official of the Bank of the Philippine Islands said the country needs to improve its risk management standards and sustainability measures so hog raisers can survive and thrive amid the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.

“ASF has already taken a big toll on the country’s pig population. The key to surviving this hog epidemic is a well-studied and properly implemented biosecurity program that will help hog raisers set up practicable measures to prevent or control the spread of infection within a pig farm,” BPI Sustainable Development Finance head, Jo Ann Eala, said in a statement.

Pig Improvement Company (PIC) Philippines general manager Vino Borromeo said analysts projected about 750,000 sows could be affected if ASF continues to spread across the country, causing a supply shortfall and price hike.

The virus will remain in the country and continue to spread until an effective ASF vaccine arrives, and that attaining the supply level in 2019 may take at least 10 years, he added.

“The shortfall will fast track the transformation of the industry to adopt a more modern system of farming, put technology into the process, and innovate solutions to be more efficient and more conscious of the biosecurity that we need to put in place to protect herds,” he said.

The BPI said that until a proper biosecurity discipline is implemented, “it will be really tough to repopulate and ensure that you don’t get hit again.”

In 2020, the Department of Agriculture announced the establishment of the first-border inspection (FBI) facilities in the country’s major ports, starting at the Manila International Container Port.

It will further strengthen on-site border control inspections for imported animals, plants, meat, and other farm and fishery products arriving in major international seaports in the country.

DA Secretary William Dar said the FBI will be done on all animals, plants, fisheries, and related agricultural products arriving from other countries.

“The FBI facilities will be one of the major accomplishments of the Duterte administration as biosecurity measures, like quarantine checks, are needed to protect animal, plant and public health, and animal welfare,” Dar said.

The FBI facilities will also be put up at the Manila South Harbor, Subic Freeport Zone, Port of Batangas, Cebu International Port, and Port of Davao.

Meanwhile, Tugon Kabuhayan convenor Asis Perez, in a virtual presser, said the putting up of a border inspection facility would be of great help in ensuring food safety, especially of imported commodities entering the country.

Perez, former director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said the proper process is that before products entered the Philippines and charged with duties by the Bureau of Customs, they should be first inspected and examined in laboratories for food safety purposes.

“This will not require additional budget on the part of the government because it should be the manufacturers or exporters who should shoulder the lab fees,” he said. Perez said the good thing is that BFAR has already taken preliminary steps in drafting the guidelines on the inspection and labeling of imported goods for fish and seafood products.*PNA

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