By John Noel E. Herrera
Iloilo has temporarily stopped exporting hogs to Luzon due to the continuous battle of the province against the African Swine Fever (ASF).
Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said that while safety and security protocols are already in place against ASF, some of the problems that they now need to solve are the resumption of the shipment of hogs and the possible shortage of protein sources in the province.
“The big problem is and ang ginalagas gid naton is we are not exporting pigs anymore. From March, April, May wala na ta naga-export and we will recover this through our measures,” Defensor said.
A report from Iloilo Provincial Veterinary Office (IPVO) showed a big decrease in the number of hogs exported to Luzon since the first case of ASF was recorded in the province last year.
Data from IPVO indicated that from 8,980 hog heads shipped out last December 2022, it went down to 8,498 heads in January 2023 and only 897 hogs in February, until the province stopped exporting since March 2023.
The Department of Agriculture (DA)-6 earlier reported that Iloilo province was the second largest producer of hogs in Western Visayas, with almost 300,000 heads in its inventory in 2022.
But as of May 2023, IPVO noted that swine inventory in the province dropped 62 percent or 173,010 heads out of the 277,421 hogs in its inventory in September 2022.
Defensor, on the other hand, stressed that pork shortage in the province is not a problem, citing that Iloilo is 289 percent sufficient before the first ASF case was reported, but they need to recover the surplus for the province to resume exporting hogs again.
“Ang shortage is not a problem because before this we are 289 percent sufficient. This is a surplus and the surplus is gone. That is why we are back to no surplus, but we are fighting to recover and that’s where we are right now,” he said.
The governor also said that they have already established recovery measures to address the depleted hog inventory and the possible shortage of protein sources in the province.
“As we go along, you know, the fight against ASF, di mo na siya madiktahan, so we need to adjust along the way. Right now, we are implementing adjusted recovery measures. You can start repopulating if it is already negative. The unit of the recovery should be at the barangay level,” Defensor explained.
Aside from ASF, Defensor stressed that there is another threat against the hog industry in Iloilo that both the provincial government and the public need to be aware of.
On Thursday, May 25, Defensor issued Advisory No. 1 series 2023, implementing strict veterinary quarantine measures in all ports of entry in Iloilo following the “high incidence of Classical Swine Fever (CSF) in Negros Occidental.”
CSF or “hog cholera” is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild swine. Infected pigs develop fever, hemorrhages, lethargy, yellowish diarrhea, vomiting, and purple skin discoloration of the ears, lower abdomen, and legs.
The advisory stated that the following measures shall be implemented to protect the swine industry in Iloilo:
a) Strict implementation of Veterinary Quarantine Measures on all incoming live, pork, pork products and by-products in Dumangas port, Bay-ang port, and Estancia port;
b) Incoming shipments of swine, pork, pork products and by-products shall be accompanied with a Veterinary Health Certificate (VHC), Veterinary Shipping permit and livestock handlers license;
c) Animal quarantine inspectors in all ports of entry are enjoined to conduct thorough inspection of all incoming shipments; and d) Suspicious shipments and/or with incomplete documents shall be returned to origin at the shippers’ expense.
The Negros Occidental Provincial Veterinary Office (NOPVO) earlier reported that 2,421 pigs died in only 18 days this May 2023 due to CSF on an average of around 134 hogs a day.