TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Sept. 6 (PIA) -- Eat local meat. Help swine raisers.
There is nothing to worry, assured Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz as news about the alleged spread of the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF) stirred communities especially those within the hog industry.
Although harmless to humans, ASF, a virus-borne disease, has the capacity to wipe out the country's hog industry, animal doctors revealed.
Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap has immediately issued an executive order putting up a temporary ban on pork and live pigs entering Bohol from any island.
Quarantine set up. Dr. Maria Eleonor Abisado reporting that veterinary authorities have put up measures that nothing relative to pork, live pigs or its processed form get into the province and possibly contaminate the local herd. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)
The ban, however, does not apply to meat and live animals that have either the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) Certificate, or live animals with veterinary certifications that attest these are free from ASF and other hog diseases, as well as shipping permits.
The governor's action, however, sent a different signal to local hog-growers who, afraid that consumers might not buy their meat anymore, decided to sell at low prices.
Lapiz, however, defended the governor's action saying that the executive order was for the protection of the local hog industry, which is now valued at billions of pesos.
Bohol as an island has a natural barrier against the entry of contaminated and affected livestock, but veterinarians have insisted that vigilance in the implementation of the meat ban has to be strictly observed.
ASF virus has a high survival rate and it can even be carried by people through their clothing or anything that comes in contact with a sick pig or tools in slaughtering pigs, Lapiz explained during the Kapihan sa PIA.
As Bohol puts up its guards, the local veterinary office has complemented the Bureau of Animal Industry's Quarantine Services to make sure that nothing relative to pork, live pigs or its processed form get into the province and possibly contaminate the local herd, reported Dr. Maria Eleonor Abisado during the same forum.
The biosecurity measures also include the installation of disposal bins in ports and airports, and the setting up information systems that urge people with processed pork carry-ons, to dispose of them in the bins provided in moves to secure the local herd.
Local authorities have also reported that quarantine inspectors have noted that some tourists and locals bring in chorizo, chicharon, tocino and longganiza from outside Bohol, but these have been surrendered for disposal.
At stake in Bohol is the P6-billion hog industry, according to Capitol reports.
In fact, the Philippine Statistics Authority, as quoted by Lapiz, notes that Bohol has 440 percent sufficiency in pork, and this could be wiped out with the unguarded entry of the virus.
There are over 30,000 households now involved in the industry and are producing not less than 50,095 metric tons of local meat, and 80 percent of those are from backyard raisers, Lapiz said.
At the farm level, Lapiz said they have networked with the strong Barangay Livestock Aides (BALA) to do field monitoring and surveillance.
The good thing, authorities shared, is that even local suppliers are now requiring veterinary health certificates for every live pig that they source out from thousands of Bohol's backyard hog growers.
Amidst the ban, veterinarians and even several hog growers who have noted that Bohol is indeed free from the dreaded hog fever have seen the opportunity opened.
One local swine raiser owner of Marcela Farms assured that they can still supply Bohol with pork and live pigs for the next three months, with the outside supply temporarily cut.
With the ban, swine raisers associations, according to the veterinarians, agree that it would be better if Bohol would not accept any more pork from outside sources, sensing that the local meat now is getting its share in the display shelves.
The local meat quality is good, and if not for the choice cuts that high-end resorts and restaurants are needing for their guests, there just might not be any need for Bohol to get prime cuts supplied from outside, Lapiz said. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)