Although African swine fever (ASF) is harmless to humans, the world’s pork consumption is expected to drop sharply amid fears of the viral infection that has recently been detected in more than 21 countries, including the Philippines.
In pork’s stead, the US Department of Agriculture estimated in its biannual global livestock and poultry report that Filipino consumption of chicken would rise by 13.33 percent to 2 million metric tons (MT) this year from 1.76 million MT.
Consequently, Philippine imports of chicken are forecasted to go up by 27 percent with prices of chicken rising in proportion to the increase in demand.
Philippine pork production, on the other hand, is expected to dip by 16 percent to 1.4 million MT from 1.68 million MT while consumption is seen to decline to 1.75 million MT from 1.94 million MT.
But Filipinos’ love of pork—as shown by their annual consumption of 14.2 kilograms per capita—is expected to remain undaunted with imports possibly increasing by 32 percent.
Filipinos consume more pork than most of the world with the global average consumption at 12.2 kg per capita but way behind the 28.5 kg per capita of China, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
This seems to explain why some hog raisers and traders refuse to cooperate with government in containing the spread of the virus in parts of Quezon City and Bulacan, a month after the first outbreak in Rizal.
To date, 36,000 hogs have already been culled by the Department of Agriculture (DA) following standard quarantine measures under the World Organisation for Animal Health.
It noted, however, that the latest death toll was less than 1 percent of the country’s total swine population of 12.8 million.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a television interview that the DA had already requested additional funding of P200 million to manage the continuing outbreak.
But ASF continues to spread in Quezon City with blood samples from hogs in Barangays Tandang Sora and Pasong Tamo testing positive for infection.
The number of Quezon City barangays with confirmed ASF cases now stand at five, including Bagong Silangan, Payatas and Tatalon.
But ahead of the test results from the Bureau of Animal Industry, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said she had already ordered the City Veterinary Office to start culling hogs voluntarily surrendered by backyard raisers in Tandang Sora and Pasong Tamo.
Belmonte assured hog raisers who voluntarily surrender their hogs that they will receive financial aid of P3,000 per pig.
Pigs within the 1-kilometer radius of the two barangays will also be culled, said Nonong Velasco, action officer of the city’s ASF Task Force.
“The objective of the 1-kilometer protocol is to contain the virus. We don’t want the virus to spread. Self-consumption is allowed because the virus has no effect on humans,” he said.
“We simply don’t allow selling outside the contaminated area so we do not spread the virus,” Velasco added.