1,000 hog traders displaced as auction market closes
SULOP, Davao del Sur, Philippines — At least 1,000 small hog traders in Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur and Sarangani faced substantial income losses after the local government temporarily shut down the livestock auction market here on Friday.
Mayor Jose Jimmy Sagarino gathered some 60 livestock dealers to personally inform them of his order to close the facility for 30 days as a precaution against the spread of African swine fever (ASF) upon the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“We were shocked by the decision of the local government but we can do nothing about it,” said Bobby Guitguit, who has regularly been buying pigs from the auction market for his lechon house in Digos City.
For the past 16 years, the auction market, locally called bagsakan, has served livestock growers in Davao del Sur, Sarangani and Davao Occidental, as well as wholesale buyers who supply the pork needs of various enterprises in Davao and General Santos cities.
Hundreds of hogs are traded at the auction market every day as well as goats and cattle.
During the Yuletide season, the daily volume reaches thousands.
But trading activity at the market went down by 90 percent since the outbreak of ASF in January until local government workers disinfected then padlocked the facility on Friday.
Ricardo Oñate, the DA Davao regional director, explained that the market had to be closed temporarily “to protect their place from the ASF that could ruin their trade in the future.”
He said DA would extend financial assistance to those displaced by the closure.
But ASF continued to afflict several areas in Minadanao.
In Davao Occidental alone, Gov. Claude Bautista said ASF had affected hogs in Malita, Santa Maria, Jose Abad Santos and Don Marcelino towns.
As of Tuesday, close to 3,000 pigs have died in Don Marcelino, according to records from the municipal agriculture office, some 40 percent of the town’s 7,436-head inventory.
The local government started culling some pigs on Wednesday and buried these in pits excavated in each of the town’s 15 villages.
Because of the ASF infections in nearby provinces, demand for pork has gone down, resulting in reduced prices. From P200 per kilo, pork now sells at P180 in the public market in General Santos City.
In Davao del Sur, meat vendors also reported weak sales of pork although retail prices remained stable at P200 to P240 per kilo.
Meat vendors noted that consumers shifted from pork to beef and chicken and even fish due to fear of the swine disease.
Lyn-Lyn Enero, a pork vendor in Bansalan town, said her daily income was cut by half since Sunday when the ASF outbreak was made known.
In Digos City, Alma Ephan said the usual 100 kilos of pork she sells has gone down to only 40 to 50 kilos “as ASF brought fear to consumers.”
—With a report from Orlando B. Dinoy
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