THE Department of Agriculture will implement by the end of the year its National Zoning Plan governing the movement of pork products, amid resistance from some local governments to shipments of such items from areas affected by African Swine Fever (ASF).
Officials said the plan is still in the consultation stage as meat processors warn about billions of pesos in potential losses if their shipments are stopped at provincial or municipal borders, particularly ahead of the year-end holidays, when they generate most of their sales.
Local government units (LGUs) are resisting the entry of pork products from Luzon to protect their own hog farmers.
In a briefing at the Palace on Wednesday, the head of the DA’s ASF Task Force Reildrin G. Morales, said the proposed National Zoning Plan is set to be implemented within the year, pending further consultations.
The consultations need to be comprehensive because a zoning plan will have a wide-ranging impact on many businesses, he said.
“For that reason, we have not released (the zoning plan) because we will want to share it first with our stakeholders,” he added.
The DA announced Monday that it is finalizing plans to regulate the movement of pork products in order to prevent the ASF from spreading to regions not yet affected by the disease.
The proposal, which will be discussed in the Cabinet Wednesday, will divide the country into five areas depending on how ASF has affected the region: free zones, containment zones, protected zones, surveillance zones, and infected zones.
According to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), hog raisers claim lost revenue of P10 billion during the first two months of the outbreak.
Mr. Morales, however, estimates that the industry actually loses about P30 million a day or P900 million a month, assuming a hog value of P10,000 per animal.
Mr. Morales said the ASF outbreak is manageable and pork is not yet in short supply.
“The level of spread of the disease is a level we can manage,” Mr. Morales said.
He added that since August, when the first ASF case was reported, 70,000 hogs have been culled out of the country’s 12.5 million herd. Mr. Morales clarifies that not all the pigs in this figure died due to ASF.
“Yun pong na-cull natin na mga baboy ay hindi po siya lahat infected with ASF (Not all culled hogs are infected with ASF). At least a third, or even less, are infected with ASF,” he said, adding that most culled animals are destroyed as a precaution. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang