Sat, Oct 26, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Philippines losing US$20m a month to swine disease

Reuters, MANILA

The Philippine hog industry is losing nearly US$20 million per month from African swine fever (ASF) infections, agricultural officials said yesterday, after announcing that the virus has also been detected in some processed pork products.

The highly contagious pig disease is quickly spreading in the Philippines, the world’s 10th-largest pork consumer, pushing up prices of other meat products such as chicken.

Although not harmful to humans, the disease is deadly to pigs, with no vaccine available.

CONCERTED EFFORT

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s office late on Thursday issued a statement seeking a concerted government effort to manage, contain and control the disease that is also wreaking havoc on hog industries in China and other Asian countries.

In a separate media briefing, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas officials warned of an upside risk to inflation next year amid the African swine fever scare.

In the Philippines, also the world’s seventh-biggest pork importer, the virus has hit some backyard farms in Quezon City in Metro Manila and in several provinces on the main island of Luzon.

“There are opportunity losses for the hog industry estimated at about 1 billion pesos [US$19.5 million] a month,” Philippine Department of Agriculture spokesman Noel Reyes said.

The government reported the country’s first outbreak in September. More than 60,000 pigs have since either died because of the disease or been culled.

That is less than 1 percent of the country’s herd, estimated at 12.7 million pigs as of July.

PROCESSED GOODS

Packets of processed pork items confiscated from a local traveler, mostly homemade, but also including some “branded” products, tested positive for the virus, the department said in a statement.

The tainted products include hot dogs, sausages and cured meat, local media reported.

“We strongly appeal to small backyard hog raisers not to sell their ASF-infected pigs to traders and for traders not to sell infected hogs and pork and processed products so as not to spread the ASF virus to other areas,” Philippine Secretary of Agriculture William Dar said.

Reported infections are all within Luzon. Some provinces in the central and southern Philippines have banned pork and pork-based products from the disease-hit areas.

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