Border curb vs ASF stalled; PH may import galunggong

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    By JED MACAPAGAL and JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR

    The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) and member group Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PhilMaize) yesterday called for the approval by
    the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) of the location of the first border control (FBC) facility that will help in curbing the entry of illegal shipments especially meat that are infected with African swine fever (ASF).

    Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque yesterday said Malacanang is prepared to freeze prices of, and import, galunggong (blue mackerel scad) if the need arises to keep prices down and supply sufficient.

    Roger Navarro, PhilMaize president, said PPA has yet to approve the proposed location in Port of Manila, delaying the construction of the FBC.

    Four other FBCs are being proposed in Subic, Batangas, Cebu and Davao.

    In a statement yesterday, Danilo Fausto, PCAFI president, said the delay in the FBC construction and the absence of systematic and organized hog vaccination program further intensifies the ASF problem in the Philippines.

    Fausto said the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Animal Industry should work with Vietnam for the possible procurement of vaccines for ASF.

    Repopulation

    The DA said its three-year repopulation effort is being rolled out with the deployment of sentinel pigs in formerly infected areas. These will be monitored for six weeks to check if they will show signs and symptoms of the disease.

    Ruth Miclat-Sonaco, director of the country’s national livestock program, said the three-year program targets to produce 10.5 million finisher hogs with a total value of P157 billion and carcass equivalent of 738,805 metric tons.

    “If we plot the entire country, many areas can now be started with the sentinel project since for the last three months, no cases were recorded,” she added.

    Sonaco said the three-year program also targets to release 90 percent or 2,100 of ASF affected barangays before the end of 2023 as well as to provide insurance for 8.5 million finisher hogs and 1.5 million breeder hogs for the period.

    As of end-February, 12 regions, 463 cities and municipalities, 40 provinces and 2,402 barangays in the country were affected by the ASF wherein 442,402 hogs already culled.

    Galunggong problems

    In a briefing from Cebu City, Roque said the government will not hesitate to import the blue mackerel scad “which we once did to keep the supply sufficient and to prevent prices from going up.”

    Roque said prices of fish, including galunggong, are really high due to the limited supply brought about by the cold season but supply will improve once the summer season starts.

    Sen. Grace Poe, since January, has been proposing the imposition of a price freeze on galunggong or its inclusion in the current price freeze of pork and chicken products.

    The price of galunggong is between P240 and P260 per kilogram.#