Because of high inflation last year, the Department of Finance is blaming high pork prices for the spikes. But it is not the fault of hog raisers because African swine fever caught almost the entire world meat-producing countries by surprise, and ultimately short supplies and high prices.
It’s crazy but the Department of Finance is blaming the high meat prices for the spikes in inflation last year as it bats for more importation for the whole of 2022.
It must be recalled that the first outbreak of the African swine fever was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture in July 2019 and it spread to 50 provinces.
However, local hog farmers were already complaining of its presence much earlier but it took longer for the DA to confirm it.
President Duterte placed the country under a state of calamity for one year due to AFS effective May 10, 2021.
He increased the minimum access volume (MAV) of pork meat from 54,210 metric tons to 254,210 MT in 2021 to ensure supply of meat for the market. (But reports later said only a small part or less than 10 percent of the allowed imports under MAV was used).
Local governments were asked to strictly follow the National Zoning implementation and movement plan depending on the level of ASF risks.
Besides, DA has provided financial and technical supports to ASF-affected farms through its Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) and “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” (BABay ASF).
The DA also encouraged backyard and commercial pig raisers to have their animal stocks insured with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation to avail of insurance coverage of up to P10 000 for fatteners and P14 500 for breeders.
DoF Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said Thursday that “the 16.8 percent meat price inflation last year accounted for 1.1 percentage points (of) the 4.4 - percent overall inflation.”
“Had meat price inflation been half as high, the upper level of the 2-4 percent inflation target range would not have been breached.”
Inflation hits 4.5%
Inflation in 2021 averaged 4.5 percent, against the 2.6 percent reading in 2020 and exceeding the central bank’s target band, the Star said.
Beltran said meat price inflation in 2021 was the highest of any major food item since 2012.
The lingering effects of African Swine Fever (ASF) have drastically cut the hog population, pressuring pork prices higher, he said.
“The Department of Agriculture confirmed the outbreak of ASF in the country in the middle of 2019 but it was in 2021 that the country felt more fully the debilitating effects of the hog infection,” Beltran added.
Beltran said the Philippines will need to continue importing pork to meet demand and compensate for the supply shortfall.
Release pork in cold storages
Other interventions may include the regular release of pork held in cold storage and their continuous replenishment from local or imported supply, he said.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III supports the proposal by the National Economic and Development Authority to extend the validity of an executive order increasing import volumes until the end of 2022.
Executive Order No. 133 in May last year temporarily raised the pork import quota, known as the minimum access volume, to 254,210 metric tons from 54,210 to address increasing pork prices.
The hog and meat industry had opposed the proposed extension, asking the government to instead support local producers to improve supply.
What is ASF
African swine fever is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and feral swine of all ages. ASF is not a threat to human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. It is not a food safety issue. ASF is found in countries around the world.
African swine fever has no impact on human health. Humans cannot catch ASF from infected pigs nor can they contract the disease by eating meat from a pig infected with ASF.
ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses. It is caused by a large DNA virus of the Asfarviridae family, which also infects ticks of the genus Ornithodoros.
ASF is spread by contact with infected animals' body fluids. It can be spread by ticks that feed on infected animals. People are also a source of spread as they can move the virus on vehicles or clothing.
Clinical symptoms may look very much like those of classical swine fever: fever, listless pigs, lack of appetite, red skin, (bloody) diarrhea, vomiting. Bleeding, cyanosis (blue skin) and necrosis of parts of the skin (blackening) may occur. Sows may abort upon infection.
No treatment or effective vaccine exists for African swine fever. It has proven difficult to control transmission of the disease. Often, movement restriction and herd depopulation are necessary control measures because of how quickly and easily the virus spreads.
ASF virus, in a suitable protein environment, is stable over a wide temperature and pH range. It has been shown to survive in serum at room temperature for 18 months, in refrigerated blood for 6 years, and in blood at 37°C for a month.
Controlling its spread entailed culling animals on infected farms followed by cleaning and disinfection, tracing possible contact farms followed by quarantine or preventive culling, tightening biosecurity measures, transport ban on pigs and pork products, among others.
African Swine Fever is highly contagious and infection spreads rapidly through a unit, with clinical signs of fever beginning 4-5 days after infection and causing fever followed by dullness, breathing difficulty, vomiting, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge, abortion in pregnant sows, cyanosis of the extremities and more. ASF virus has been shown to live (but not multiply) for months in certain environments, but their survival time is shortened greatly with heat.
The spread of ASF can be prevented only by early detection and the strict application of classical disease control methods, including surveillance, epidemiological investigation, tracing of pigs, stamping out in infected holdings, biosecurity measures, quarantine, and animal movement control.
AFS is not a threat to humans and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. However, outbreaks have led to significant economic losses and pork shortages on local and global scales. No commercial vaccines are currently available to prevent the virus from spreading.
African swine fever (ASF) is a viral disease affecting pigs and wild boar with up to 100% case fatality rate.
Provinces affected by ASF
Provinces affected by ASF were: Abra, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Albay, Apayao, Aurora, Bataan, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Cavite, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Eastern Samar, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Kalinga, La Union, Laguna, Lanao del Norte, Leyte, Marinduque, Masbate, Misamis Oriental, Mountain province, North Cotabato, Northern Samar, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Quirino, Rizal, Samar, Sarangani, Southern Leyte, Sorsogon, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Tarlac, Zambales Provinces and Metro Manila (Caloocan, Malabon and Quezon Cities).
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