PR | Posted on Oct. 16, 9:20 a.m.
A private organization of companies engaged in the Agricultural industry has called on the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Ano to stop him from issuing a memorandum encouraging local government units to lift the ban on processed pork products.
The members of the Samahang Industrya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), represented by its chairman Rosendo O. So, wrote a letter to Secretary Ano last Tuesday expressing their concern over the said memorandum as it will run counter to the efforts that were put in place by several local government units like Bohol and Cebu in the Visayas and Davao City in Mindanao to protect the local hog industries from the global outbreak of the African Swine Fever (ASF)
In their letter, So pointed out that Felix Tiukinhoy Jr., the President of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors (PAMPI) himself confirmed that no testing has ever been done to determine if their products are ASF-free or not and that there is yet any testing done that will ascertain if these processed pork products are free from the ASF virus.
“We have requested the Department of Agriculture (DA) to test all frozen meat in cold storage facilities, thru an independent third party like the SGS, but no official action has been taken. But there have been several incidences that confirmed the contamination of processed pork that entered our country and importation of pork products from banned countries by a member of PAMPI,” said So.
He added that PAMPI, during one of their meetings with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, has also made it clear that it is not taking accountability for any violations of any of their members.
Last June 14, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has confirmed that canned goods seized at the Clark International Airport were contaminated with the ASF virus. In that same month, more than 600 kilos of banned imported pork products from Belgium and another batch from Poland, but originating in Germany was seized by the City Veterinary Office in Cebu. The said importer of these banned pork products is a member of PAMPI.
Another shipment containing 4,000 kilos of imported frozen pork from Germany was seized in Sta Maria, in Bulacan last June 30.
SINAG members emphasized that there is no other sector that have incurred more losses because of the ASF outbreak than the hog industry as the processed meat industry is miniscule as compared to the Php 500 billion hog industry and allied businesses.
So added that PAMPI’s claim of losses is not equal to the declared value of their industry, as per the Board of Investment record.
“Millions of backyard hog raisers, rice growers, corn farmers, coconut tillers and sugar workers, viajeros, market vendors, sales agents and workers across the veterinary and feed milling industry rely on the hog industry. But we never complain of these bans as we want to protect regions and areas that are ASF-free.”
As of today, farmgate prices of backyard hog raisers are down to Php70-80 per kilo, which is close to 40 percent drop from the pre-ASF level of Php110-115 per kilo.
“A Php 30 per kilo drop in live weight prices would mean a loss of Php2,250 per head. Per sow level, this would mean a loss of Php 3,825 (1.5 heads sold/sow level x Php 2550/head lost). Actual losses for a month is about Php 48.57 billion,” said So.
Worse, demand for pork has also dropped by 20 percent to 30 percent.
“The hemorrhage to the industry of the ASF is real, cathastropic and in billions of pesos. And yet, we support the decision of Visayas and Mindanao LGUs to ban the entry of our products to their region to ensure that Visayas and Mindanao remain ASF-free,” said So.
So said they are hoping that Secretary Ano will reconsider his decision in issuing the memorandum adding they are open to discuss this further should the Secretary calls for them.