By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY – Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has ordered the drafting of a contingency plan the creation of a task force to protect the province’s hog industry from an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).
“We cannot afford to ruin our hog industry so we need to address the issue and take concrete action now,” Garcia said during the first meeting of the ASF task force at the Capitol Wednesday.
Garcia has reason to be concerned. Cebu is the largest pork-producing province in Central Visayas and the fourth pork-producing province in the country.
It produced 99,898 metric tons of pork in 2018, which is 4.3 percent of the national volume.
The province’s hog industry is worth nearly P11 billion, according to the Cebu provincial veterinarian Rose Vincoy.
“Cebu consumes 97.16 percent or 61,600,000 kilos of the demand while Cebu’s tourists consume 2.84 percent or 1,800,000 kilos of the demand,” Vincoy said.
Central Visayas has an inventory of 1,068,139 hogs as of July 1, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Salvador Diputado.
“We are still confirming the cause of death of the hogs in Bulacan, that is why we have to be careful in our reporting on the incident,” Diputado said.
Diputado said DA has activated its Quick Response Team (QRT) for an integrated surveillance system and tight monitoring of the region’s seaports and airports.
The contingency plan includes banning pork imports, avoiding swill feeding, and submitting samples for examination if there are suspected ASF cases in the region, Vincoy said.
The Central Visayas Pork Producers Cooperative told the task force that it has already taken the initiative of buying and putting up footbaths at airports and seaports in the region the moment they heard about the ASF concerns in Luzon.
“We spent our own money for the project, about one million pesos to contribute to address the problem because we have more than 2,000 families depending on this industry. We are 100% committed to police our ranks,” the cooperative’s president, Rolando Tambago.
Tambago said that ideally, imported hogs from countries with ASF cases should be banned.