By Madelaine B. Miraflor
An unknown swine disease is expected to slash the hog inventory of one of the country’s top hog raising provinces, with culling operations of all pigs in Rizal province still far from being over.
A latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that as of July, the total inventory of swine in the Philippines went down by 0.6 percent to 12.70 million heads from 12.78 million heads in the same period last year.
Population of swine in backyard farms of 8.02 million heads also contracted by 1.2 percent from the previous year’s count of 8.12 million heads, while stocks in commercial farms at 4.68 million heads expanded by 0.4 percent from the previous year’s level of 4.66 million heads.
Among the regions, CALABARZON, which is being threatened by the suspected first African Swine Fever (ASF) cases in the country, recorded the second highest swine inventory in the country with 1.53 million heads, second to Central Luzon with 2.21 million heads.
A local official in Rizal province, who requested anonymity, said that the government continues to cull pigs in their area, following the abnormal increase in the mortality of pigs in Macabud, San Isidro, and San Jose since last Saturday.
He said that with the large amount of pigs in the province, culling operations could last for one month.
The culling operations are being done to contain the spread of an unidentified disease that has been killing pigs in the area. Based on the report of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), pigs in affected backyard swine farms have been showing loss of appetite, recumbency, vomiting, skin hemorrhages, dark discoloration, and sudden death.
DA spokesman Noel Reyes said that backyard hog raising is one of the main livelihood in Rizal province.
And though he won’t confirm yet if it’s ASF that has been destroying the local hog industry in the province, he said the swine disease that hit the area is considered as one of the major economically destructive swine diseases in the world.
In a television interview with ANC, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the private sector and industry stakeholders have already donated P9 million to the Department of Agriculture (DA), which the agency can use to assist affected hog raisers.
Because of the ASF threats, some fear that the price of pork would increase, prompting Dar to appeal for traders and retailers not to take advantage of the situation to detriment of consumers.
From April to June, the average farmgate price of hogs upgraded for slaughter was lower by 6.6 percent to P110.15 per kilogram, liveweight.