Regulation by the blind is costly

Regulation by the blind is costly

The Philippines is among the developing countries with a large pig industry that got hit by the African Swine Fever or ASF. In terms of inventory, its pig herd fell by about 3.08 million heads in the first quarter last year from a level of 13.8 million in 2020. The sharp drop reflected higher pig mortality due to ASF or possibly other causes, culling to contain the spread of the virus, or their owners accelerated harvest to cut down their respective financial losses to ASF.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) describes the ASF to be a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of domestic and wild pigs. Infected animals will have “high fever, loss of appetite, hemorrhages in the skin and internal organs, and death in two to 10 days on average.”

Available data indicates that the Philippines is not out of the ASF woods yet. Local pork supply is estimated to be 1.247 million metric tons this year, down from 1.608 million tons at the start of the ASF outbreak. Because of the expansion of pork demand following the recovery of per capita income growth at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, one analysis which made use of data from Philippine Statistics Authority, Trade Map, GIRA (2020), and World Bank placed the pork deficit this year at nearly half a million metric tons this year (see Figure 1).

I take up this problem not just to estimate the amount of pork which the country must import to lower pork prices and thus help curtail inflation from its current level of 6.9%, but more to explore how we may expand local pork production by addressing the ASF problem.

The ASF virus is still in this country, and we don’t know where and when the virus would claim the good health or lives of pigs. There is no medicine for it and ASF vaccines are still being developed.

GIRA (2020) claimed that nearly half of pork would be lost because of ASF, with backyard farms losing 30% and commercial farms 36%. Before ASF, 60% of our pig industry was backyard, indicating that smallholder farms got hit by the disease relatively more than commercial farms. This leaves the industry with more commercial farms surviving (56%).

The disease hit hardest in the island of Luzon, particularly Central Luzon and Calabarzon, which happen to be the country’s top two regional pork producers, servicing the country’s largest pork market, which is the National Capital Region.

What has the government done to address the ASF problem?

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has been implementing its INSPIRE program. The program aims to restore the livelihoods of ASF-affected small-hold swine raisers, produce quality and genetically superior breeder stocks and finishers, intensify and modernize the production environment in the ASF-free zones, and implement strict biosecurity protocol.

The program identifies ASF virus-related zones: red zones for areas with farms found to have ASF, and pink zones separating the red from ASF-free areas, dubbed as green zones. In red zones, the DA destroys animals that are sick with ASF and restricts the movement of animals and related products in the pork value chain in it to control the spread of the virus (see Figure 2).

Check Also

CA upholds dismissal of worker by Ilocos electric cooperative

CA upholds dismissal of worker by Ilocos electric cooperative

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has found that the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) acted …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *