Friday, 14 Aug 2020

Philippines boosts swine fever checks as pigs die in capital

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) – The Philippines wants operators who raise pigs in their backyards, which account for 65 per cent of the nation’s hog output, to be more vigilant in monitoring for African swine fever after dozens of the animals were found dead in cities in Manila.

The carcasses of about 40 pigs were in a river in Marikina City and six were in a creek in Quezon City, according to a report by ABS-CBN News. It would take two weeks until the government gets confirmation if the highly contagious viral disease caused the deaths.

“It was utterly irresponsible on the part of the backyard raisers, as they did not only violate current laws, but their misdoing also spread the disease pathogens much faster,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement on Sunday (Sept 15).

The Philippines’ 260 billion peso (S$6.8 billion) swine industry provides livelihood to millions, as it is dominated by small operators who raise pigs in their backyards. The virus isn’t known to harm humans.

Reports of recent deaths came even as agriculture department spokesman Noel Reyes said last Friday that the authorities are “110 per cent sure” that swine fever was contained in areas affected in Rizal and Bulacan, where pig deaths were first discovered weeks ago.

“The irresponsible dumping of dead pigs simply adds scare to the public, and this should not be tolerated,” Mr Dar said. Those found dumping the carcasses will be punished for violations against animal welfare and solid waste management, he said.

Livestock, which accounts for 17 per cent of Philippine agricultural output, rose 3.2 per cent in the second quarter.

Philippine hog production was more than 2.3 million metric tonnes based on live weight in 2018, and valued at 242 billion pesos.

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