Agri dept to 'reevaluate' ASF protocols: official

Jessica Fenol and Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2023 05:00 PM | Updated as of Apr 26 2023 05:25 PM

Pigs are hosed down inside a backyard hog raiser’s pen in Malolos Bulacan on September 16, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Pigs are hosed down inside a backyard hog raiser’s pen in Malolos Bulacan on September 16, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture and other attached agencies will "reevaluate" the country's African Swine Fever control and prevention measures as the disease continues to impact the industry across the country. 

As of March 2023, 11 regions, 21 provinces, 54 municipalities and 137 barangays still have active ASF cases across the country, according to the latest DA data. As of March, a total of 4,418 barangays have been affected by ASF. 

The data suggests "there is something wrong" with the current protocols, said DA National Livestock Program Director and International Training Center on Pig Husbandry Director Ruth Miclat-Sonaco during the Animal Nutrition Summit briefing on Wednesday. 

"We have to reevaluate how we do our ASF control and prevention... So we will have a meeting anytime soon to talk about this prevention and control, among other things. And what should we do more because apparently, something is wrong," she said.

In March, the DA confirmed more ASF cases in several parts of the country including Cebu and Bohol.

The DA and other attached agencies have programs to control the spread of ASF such as the 'Barangay Bantay ASF' as well as a repopulation effort called Integrated National Swine Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE). 


National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc Vice President Alfred Ng, said smuggled pork could be carriers of ASF. Intensifying biosecurity in farms is also crucial in preventing the disease, he said.

"We wanted to educate farmers, members, non-members to practice biosecurity. I think that's the only way that we can move forward," he said.

Ng said some of hog producers were also "hesitant" to repopulate due to the risk of ASF. Ng represents the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc with 14 member associations across the country.

"They think the risk outweighs the returns. In order to encourage members to start the repopulation process, we continue as a Federation to tell them success stories of people that repopulated," he said. 

According to the latest DA estimates, there could be a shortage of 81 million metric tons of pork this year, equivalent to 18 days. 

"If we have to distribute it on a monthly basis we are only looking for divided by twelve siguro, we just have to be something and one two days deficit 1.5 [per month]," Sonaco said.

"Kaya nga as of the moment, what we have is that as far as the total supply natin - considering na the imports which came in - it's at 1.5 [million metric tons] on an annual basis, while our total demand is 1.6 million metric tons," she added.

To date, 38,658 metric tons of pork have been imported, mainly coming from the United States and Canada, she said.

Ng suggested that the government also look into other "economically viable" options other than culling to preserve the inventory.

"Culling of healthy animals now becomes a food security issue because we are further depleting the population, the pig population in the Philippines. So maybe there's another approach," he said.

Establishing a "pork academy" was also suggested by industry stakeholders "to be a platform to share these best practices with farmers," Cargill Philippines Country President and Managing Director for Cargill’s Animal Nutrition Business Sonny Catacutan said.

Global food and agriculture firm Cargill Philippines said modernization of the hog industry could lead to sustainable repopulation.

Cargill Philippines is launching its "ASF Playbook" during the upcoming 29th National Hog Convention and Trade Exhibit at the SMX Convention Center from April 26 to 29. 


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