GenSan seeks uniform rules on movement of live hogs, pork

The city government is pushing for the implementation of standard regulations on the movement of live hogs and pork products after the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in parts of the Davao Region.

Dr. Antonio Ephrem Marin, head of the City Veterinary Office, said Thursday the move would ensure the continuous trading of pork products in areas that remain unaffected by the outbreak and protect the hog industry from possible huge losses.

Marin said hog producers in the city have been reeling from the limited movement of their products as a result of the lockdown implemented by various local government units (LGUs) in response to the ASF outbreak.

What happened was that the LGUs panicked for fear of being hit by the outbreak. Each one issued executive orders implementing lockdowns without even considering the possible implications to the (hog) industry, he said in an interview.

Marin said the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) should have issued general guidelines to ensure order and sustain the trade of healthy hogs and pork products.

Citing their consultations with local hog producers, he said the delivery of live animals and pork products to the markets had been hampered by the lockdown and related restrictions implemented by LGUs.

He said suppliers based in the city, which remains free from ASF, already absorbed huge losses due to the restrictions, which vary per LGU.

Some LGUs implemented total lockdowns while others set modified restrictions or only prohibiting the entry and passage of products from ASF hit areas, especially those from Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur, and neighboring areas.

Marin said some suppliers were still able to make deliveries but had to contend with higher transport costs as they were forced to take longer routes to reach their destinations.

He said the situation has resulted in more animals on standby in farms and at risk of becoming overweight or exceeding their standard market weights. The standard market weight for hogs is 90 kg. to 100 kg. but some have already reached 120 kg. to 130 kg., he said.

The end result for the industry is a huge loss of potential income. It could also lead to manipulation by opportunistic traders, resulting (in) supply shortages in the markets and triggering price increases, he said.

Marin said a prolonged slowdown would be detrimental to the workers in the industry, feed producers, and traders of other related supplies.

The city's hog industry, valued at PHP8.4 billion, delivers 25,000 to 30,000 heads of live animals a month to various markets.

The area's commercial hog inventory is pegged at about 420,000 heads while those in backyard farms are estimated at 37,000 heads, making it the third biggest producer in the country.

Marin added that they have a draft recommendation on the matter and would submit it in the coming days to the two agencies.

Source: Philippines News Agency