The public is advised not to bring pork and pork by-products as “pasalubong” (present given by one arriving from a trip) when coming home to Western Visayas, especially this holiday season, as a precautionary measure amid the threat of the African swine fever (ASF).
This was reiterated by Remelyn Recoter, Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 6 (Western Visayas) regional director, in an interview on the sidelines of the fourth quarter full council meeting of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) held in Iloilo City, Tuesday.
“Please advise your relatives and friends not to bring pasalubong of pork and pork by-products because we know that the Luzon area is ASF affected. Western Visayas is still ASF-free and we wanted to maintain that status,” Recoter said.
She said they can still bring “pasalubong” but not ham and other pork products.
To date, all provinces in the region, except Guimaras and the two highly urbanized cities of Western Visayas, have banned the entry of pork and its by-products from all parts of Luzon as well as from ASF-affected countries.
Recoter said that based on their inventory, the hog sufficiency level in the region is more or less 280 percent. “We are hopeful that our hog growers will continue to raise the said livestock amid the total ban of pork and pork products from Luzon. This is an opportunity for them,” the official said.
DA data showed that Western Visayas has a total hog population of 1,250,681 as of January 1, 2019. Of the population, 89 percent or 1,109, 815 heads are raised in the backyard while 140,866 heads are raised commercially.
The hog population alone costs PHP7.69 billion not to mention the feed millers, corn farmers and other industry stakeholders.
“If we will be hit by the ASF, then the livelihood of our backyard raisers will be affected. We know that backyard raisers depend on them for their consumption, tuition and domestic expenses,” she added.
Recoter also appealed to traders not to take advantage of the hog raisers because it is supposed to be an opportunity for backyard growers to also earn.
She also advised the public to buy pork products that are inspected and certified by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
During the RDRRMC meeting, DA presented before council members the efforts that are being done to raise public awareness about ASF and other precautionary measures to prevent the entry of ASF-contaminated products.
Civil Defense Regional Director at the same time RDRRMC chair Jose Roberto Nuñez said the council will enjoin its members in spreading the call not to bring pork and its by-products as pasalubong.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines area manager Efren Nagrama also reiterated their support in ensuring that Western Visayas is safe. (PNA)