FARMERS’ PLEA

Hog raisers want selective lockdowns amid ASF

Hog Farmers Association of Davao, Inc. (HOGFADI) president Eduard So (3rd from left), Department of Agriculture 11 (DA 11) information officer Noel Provido (2nd from left), Engr. Wilfred Teves (leftmost), City Veterinarian’s Office (CVO) head Dr. Cerelyn Pinili (2nd from right) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Davao supervisor Debbie Legaspi eat roasted pig to show and to assure the public that locally-produced pork is safe to consume amid African swine fever (ASF) outbreak. Lean Daval Jr

The Davao Hog Farmers Association of Davao, Inc. (HOGFADI) is calling out local chief executives in the Davao Region to be careful and selective in issuing lockdowns in order no to unnecessarily cripple the entire hog raising industry of the region amid the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

HOGFADI president Eduard So told media in Wednesday’s Habi at Kape that his group is urging governors and mayors to be selective and implement a lockdown in identified ASF-infected areas only.

So said his group will meet with regional directors of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Mindanao to discuss a map of places where a lockdown is advisable.

“Be selective and dili basta basta mag-lockdown lang. There are other areas na free of ASF ug dapat puwede sila musulod sa Davao. Ang nahitabo lockdowns lang tanan bisan walay reason pati ang atong kauban sa Cagayan de Oro,” So said.

At the same time, engineer Wilfred “Eboy” Teves, industry leader and former ranking officer of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. lauded the Davao City LGU headed by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in promptly acting on the ASF outbreak and immediately coming up with a multi-million peso budget to assist the affected hog raisers.

So cited that pigs from General Santos City, which has been declared free from ASF, are banned from entering Cagayan de Oro City.

“Nadamay ang GenSan. I don’t think its fair na i-lockdown nato tibuok Mindanao. Naa man proseso para maka-pass katong mga areas like GenSan,” he added.

The group is urging governors and mayors to follow protocols of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in transporting live pigs.

These include “complying with all permits bago maka-transport of live pigs dapat i-honor nila (governors and mayors) kay kung mag-sige ta ug lockdown bisan walay labot na areas this will affect the entire industry,” So said.

The DA has issued color-coded zoning map to contain ASF. Based on the zoning map: red color means infected zone, pink color is a buffer zone that include provinces that still have infected municipalities or cities but have not reported new ASF cases; yellow zone is where regions have the highest swine population, both raised in commercial and backyard operations; light green zone or the protected zone, and dark green is the free zone.

Through Administrative Order No. 22, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered all government agencies and LGUs to implement and comply with the DA zoning plan to contain and eradicate the ASF.

“Dapat makasabot ang LGUs ani. LGUs should also align ilang ordinances sa administrative order ni President Duterte kay maipit ang trade sa industry,” said Noel Provido, information officer of DA 11.

Provido said they are coordinating and working with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with the plan of Agriculture Secretary William Dar to meet the governors and mayors of the region as they are the ones issuing lockdowns.

So said they will be meeting with the regional directors of DA Wednesday night to fine tune recommendations and suggestions from the hog industry players.

“Initially nag-agree na ang regional directors of DA na i-in place nanamo ang mga documents para dili libog. Usahay kung dili proper ang communication sa mga papeles. Apil ang selective lockdown sa among sabutan para dili madamay ang uban including other areas of Mindanao and Visayas”, he said.

So said the lockdown has a domino effect to other members of the industry. He said lechoneros in Davao City are now complaining on the drop of sales of their lechons as the public is hesitant to eat pork. Another reason is it is quite difficult to transport live pigs in the city due to the existing ban.

“Lechoneros in Davao City are now complaining due to the drop of sales because of this. What worsen the situation is the lockdown or areas na ayaw padaanin. Bakit magla-lockdown kung hindi infected areas? It really gives a wrong message and impression,” So said.

He said they talked to around 20 lechoneros in Chavez Street in Davao City complaining a drop of sales of more than 40 percent.

“Musulti ang isa ka lechonero sauna mu-lechon siya ug 20 kabuok ka baboy in a week, karon sulti swerte na makaduha in a day. Dako kaayo ug bawas. I have a buyer that is buying around 12 heads a day, karon mukuha na lang ug upat ka baboy sa akong farm,” So said.

So also mentioned that a lot of restaurants in Davao City removed pork from their menus due to ASF scare.

Some restaurateurs even have the audaciousness of waging an “Iwas ASF” campaign which is definitely hurting the industry because it gives the public negative impression.

So added that their next step is to contact and have a dialogue with the associations of restos, hotel chains, and tourism stakeholders in Davao City.

He also said that another thing that is worsening the situation are the misconceptions especially shared online about ASF.

“We are very concern on information na there are misconceptions about ASF. Ang ASF is not really infect humans but on pigs only. There should be a more supervised or more detailed explanation on what is ASF. Mawawala yung livelihood ng mga backyard at kasamahan natin sa indsiutrya. Ang mangyayari there will be shortage of pork at tataas ang presyo ng baboy. It is a cycle,” he said.

So said in Davao Region, the total industry is about 942,000 heads wherein 760,000 heads (73 percent) is comprised of the backyard swines and 181,000 ( 27 percent) are commercial swines.

So considered the situation as the most serious thing that happened in the region. He believes that it can wipe out the entire industry if not addressed.

“The only thing that we can do is we have to be vigilant about this. Its not guaranteed but we have to do something. One thing the price will go down because of the misconceptions, it can wipe out the industry kay kinsa man mubuhi ug baboy kung lugi?” So said.