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Livestock, poultry output dips due to swine fever, health crisis

/ 05:02 AM September 24, 2020

The country’s livestock and poultry production for this year is projected to decline by 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively, as the government struggles to contain the African swine fever (ASF) and with the demand for chicken still unable to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

A report from the US Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) noted that ASF had remained a “major concern” for poultry and livestock raisers in Luzon and in some parts of Mindanao, while demand for chicken “remained weak due to limited operations of the food service sector and other quarantine restrictions.”

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The report said farm-gate prices of hogs and chickens were increasing while retail prices in the market remained relatively stable.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said over 300,000 hogs, or 3 percent of the country’s total swine inventory, had been culled due to ASF, while feed demand also reported to have dropped by about the same volume.

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The USDA-FAS said hog inventory also decreased by 8 percent while slaughter numbers were down 5 percent, which explained the decline in pork production.

Supply problem

Supply problem may persist until 2021, even with the support programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA), industry experts said. The DA has turned to artificial insemination to improve swine stocks but raisers remain wary of ASF.

Pork imports are projected to pick up in the second half of the year to offset the expected bigger drop in local pork output. By next year, demand for meat and other food products is also expected to go up, although slowly.

At present, demand for poultry has dropped by 20 percent to 30 percent, largely due to the limited dine-in capacity of restaurants due to quarantine restrictions.

The USDA-FAS has reverted its bullish outlook for the local industry as production for the first semester registered a 5-percent decline. The slump is seen to continue until the end of 2020, and a slight recovery may not come until 2021.

Culling in Benguet

In Benguet province, 98 ASF cases have been reported in Buguias and Atok towns since August, prompting authorities to start culling pigs in hog farms there.

The infection in Atok was traced to a piglet bought from Pugo town in La Union province. Dr. Miriam Tiongan, provincial veterinarian, said the infestation would reduce the livestock and poultry output in the province until December.

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“Eventually, there will be a shortage, we really expect it,” Tiongan told the Inquirer.

Due to dwindling livestock supply, two multipurpose cooperatives in the province have asked for help in finding a local supplier of healthy pigs to sustain their meat production.

Financial aid

“Hopefully, those areas that are not affected by the ASF would raise hogs to help meet the demand in time for the Christmas season and for customary rituals,” Tiongan said.

In Cagayan province, at least nine villages in five towns—Iguig, Amulung, Solana, Piat and Tuao—were being monitored to prevent the spread of the disease.The provincial government has readied financial aid worth P3,000 to P5,000 each for affected backyard raisers.

ASF cases were also reported in four villages of Cabarroguis town in Quirino province and in 18 towns and a city in Isabela province.

While there has been a drop in hog supply, production could be mitigated easily by repositioning supplies from the Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon, according to Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura.

—Reports from Karl Ocampo, Kimberlie Quitasol and Villamor Visayas Jr.

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, livestock production, poultry production, swine fever
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