Swine fever costs hog industry P1B in 'opportunity losses' monthly: agri official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2019 02:53 PM

MANILA - The African swine fever outbreak in the Philippines, the world's 10th largest consumer of pork, results in P1 billion in "opportunity losses" each month for the local hog industry, an agriculture official said Friday.

Though not harmful to humans, the disease is deadly to pigs, with no vaccine available. It has caused pork prices to fall and consumers to shift to other meats.

"There are opportunity losses for the hog industry estimated at about P1 billion a month," said Noel Reyes, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture.

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

In a separate media briefing, central bank officials warned of an upside risk to inflation in 2020 due to the 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.

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.

Packets of processed pork items confiscated recently from a local traveler, mostly home-made but also including some "branded" products, tested positive for the virus, the agriculture department said in a statement.

The tainted products include hotdogs, 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," Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

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