THE government must implement an inter-agency system to prevent the entry of African Swine Fever amid the pork importation ban on 15 countries and following the first case detected in the ASEAN region in Vietnam, agricultural stakeholders said on Thursday.
“There must be an inter-agency coordination because right now, different communications pass through different agencies, including the Bureau of Customs, Philippine Ports Authority, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, the Philippine Coast Guard, airport and seaport personnel and local government units, among others,” said Abono party-list and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura chairperson Rosendo So.
So stressed the Department of Agriculture must take the lead in strictly implementing measures against the entry of ASF, which has been described by experts as a “contagious, untreatable and often fatal virus sweeping the global pig population.”
So suggested that the inter-agency coordinating body should also include industry stakeholders, such as the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc., and Philippine Veterinary Medical Association.
“Constant vigilance is key. Isang shipment lang ang makalusot, lahat tayo magkakaproblema. This can wipe out our small-scale backyard raisers which make up 65 percent of our local hog-raising industry,” he added.
The government has imposed an importation ban on 15 countries, namely Vietnam, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, China, and Mongolia.
Aside from domestic and wild pigs, their meat, meat products and by-products, the DA has also expanded the importation ban to include pigskin leather as the virus continues to spread.
The Philippine Veterinary Medical Association earlier warned that ASF could enter the country through pork dumplings and other processed foods sold by Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen to their local counterparts.
This possibility, the PVMA said, highlights the need for the Coast Guard to vigorously patrol known areas where similar forms of barter happen.
During Wednesday’s Senate agriculture and food committee hearing, the Bureau of Animal Industry said the government has adopted a “BABES” approach to prevent a local outbreak.
The BABES approach include banning importation; avoiding swill feeding; blocking entry of smuggled shipments and luggage from ASF-affected countries, food wastes from foreign vessels and hand-carried meat products; educating the public; and submitting laboratory samples.
All quarantine stations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have likewise been directed to establish foot baths in all entry points across the country.
So stressed that 100-percent x-ray on hand carry bags should also be implemented in the countries affected by ASF.
The BAI is also planning to deploy 100 additional workers as well as to acquire 40 meat-sniffing dogs.
To complement this, the Philippine Coast Guard is ready to deploy 30 meat-sniffing dogs and its personnel.
The Senate hearing was attended by representatives from the DA, BAI, Bureau of Customs, Food and Drugs Administration, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries, PCG, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, National Meat Inspection Service, PVMA, National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc., Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura and the backyard-raising sector.