BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Border restrictions in the provinces of Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental, will be among the measures to be strictly imposed to prevent the entry of the African swine fever (ASF) that has affected parts of Mindanao, Luzon, and even Eastern Visayas.
Department of Agriculture 6 regional executive director, Remelyn Recoter, said monitoring has been tightened in the ports of Negros Occidental and Caticlan in Aklan.
“They are the first entry points, Negros Occidental if coming from Mindanao, and Caticlan from Luzon,” she said.
Hog vans and other animal stock carriers must be disinfected upon entry at borders. Apart from total disinfection, traders will be asked to present certificate of disinfection from their port of origin.
Recoter said there is massive buying of hogs in Negros Occidental and Panay due to the high prices of live weight hogs, ranging from P130 to P160 a kilo.
Prices of pork in the National Capital Region have reached as high as P450 a kilo.
“Almost all regions in Luzon except for Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) are affected by the African swine fever,” she said.
Since the inventory of hog stocks in Luzon is reduced, they have to source out from Mindanao and Visayas, including Western Visayas.
In December last year, the region shipped out almost 70,000 heads to Luzon. The stocks reached as far as Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Bulacan.
It was also agreed that only trucking or hog vans, owned by traders from Region 6, will be allowed to roam to buy hogs that will be brought to ports where traders from other areas are waiting.
Recoter added that Negros Occidental and other local governments also have ordinances banning the entry of pork and pork products from places where there are confirmed cases of the ASF.
“We enjoin all populations of Western Visayas to be very vigilant for any suspicious mortalities in piggery farms, even commercial and backyard,” she said.
This incident, she said, should not be kept but should be reported. They can inform their barangay officials, municipal agriculturist or technicians so a response team will be immediately dispatched to ground zero.
Recoter added that the public should refrain from buying pork and pork products online.
She said that since they are being sold online, the source of their raw product is unknown.
Swill feeding is also discouraged, she added.
Recoter said the region is protecting its over P2-billion hog industry, of which around 80 percent are backyard raisers.
“Being backyard, it serves as the family’s source of domestic consumption and expenses,” she added.
Aside from ports, the Bureau of Animal Industry and provincial veterinarians have imposed strict measures in airports as flights already resumed.
The Provincial ASF Task Force also beefed up its efforts on orders of Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson to ban meat products from Eastern Visayas.
Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena said they continuously enforce and conduct checkpoints and inspections among vehicles and refrigerated container vans at various ports.
Decena said they also monitor supermarkets, grocery stores, and online sellers of frozen meat products.
The task force is also implementing disinfection activities to eliminate possible sources of infection, and immediately dispose of seized pork products by incineration or burying.
Incinerators are being provided in all ports of entry to the province, Decena said, adding that 5,213.28 kilograms of assorted pork products were incinerated last year.
PVO records show that 32.65 tons of assorted pork products, worth P5.6 million, were confiscated in seaports, airport, and checkpoints last year.
Records added that the task force has inspected 244 establishments and 131,749 vehicles and refrigerated container vans in compliance to the ASF Prevention Ordinance of Negros Occidental.*with report from PNA