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New ASF cases may cause pork shortfall

Maria Romero

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The Philippines may possibly experience a shortfall on domestic pork production by year-end as new waves of African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks were recorded in six provinces.

In an online briefing on Thursday, Agriculture William Dar confirmed outbreaks in the provinces of Albay, Quirino, Laguna, Quezon, Batangas and Cavite on the main island of Luzon.

Citing its 11th report to the World Organization for Animal Health, Dar said 72 new outbreaks were recorded in the world’s 10th-largest pork consumer and seventh-biggest pork importer in the past two months amid limited movement of goods.

So far, the Philippines recorded an additional 33,406 culled hogs, bringing the total to 370,393 since the outbreak was first detected in August 2019.

There are 5,442 active ASF cases in the country, according to latest data.

Of the new outbreaks, Libmanan in Camarines Sur recorded the highest number of pigs culled with 3,024, followed by Sariaya in Quezon with 1,878 and Liliw in Laguna with 1,869.

Ilocos Sur is the latest province added to the list of ASF-hit areas. Sixty-seven pigs in backyard farms were culled in Tagudin.

To address supply gap, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is banking on government-funded restocking programs and additional importation of pork and pork-based products from disease-free countries.

According to Dar, the DA had released more than P700 million under its quick response fund to indemnify affected hog raisers.

It also set aside an initial P400 million to restock hogs and repopulate the swine industry.

The country’s hog production is seen dropping by 20 percent to 1.27 million metric tons this year as the deadly ASF continues to threaten the P260 billion swine industry.

In its latest report, the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services revised its initial forecast of 15 percent decline as the strict virus lockdown upends movements of goods.

Based on third-quarter data, there is also a projected decline of around 20 to 30 percent in total numbers and a significant drop in sows, indicating that the supply problem may persist until next year despite some hog producers reporting the start of repopulation efforts.

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