Last week Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala ordered a temporary ban on the import of hog products from eastern coastal province Jiangsu, China after it was confirmed there had been a FMD outbreak in Zhoutang village in Yingtan, south east China, last month.
Under the terms of a memorandum signed in July, Alcala ordered the immediate suspension of the processing and evaluation of applications, and issuance of import permits for hog products.
Last month Doctor Zhang Zhonqui of China Animal Disease Control Center confirmed the virus had infected a pig farm in Lianghong Company, Sihong, Suquian, Jiangsu, China.
Assistant director of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI)’s quarantine service Doctor Simeon Amurao, said the new ban would be in addition to the existing ban on the importation of fresh frozen and processed meat and live animals susceptible to FMD from China.
Veterinary quarantine officers/inspectors from the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture have been directed to confiscate and dispose of any FMD-prone animals and their by-products, in order to protect the health of its own livestock population which is free of the disease.
According to data from the Philippine Statistical Authority livestock production in the first three months of 2014 increased by 1.2% - contributing 15.44% to the country’s total agricultural output for the period. According to the Department of Agriculture, a major driver of the growth was its hog industry which expanded by 1.25%.
In advance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) free-trade agreement which comes into force next year, Alcala said local hog producers should prepare for the opportunities that an open market could provide.
"Remember, ours is the only foot-and-mouth disease free country without vaccination in the Southeast Asia, and we must take advantage of that," Alcala said during the opening program of the Philippine Swine Forum 2014, on 24 July, in Quezon City.
The agreement aims to create a single market economy for its 10 member nations. Manuel Jarmin, executive director of the Livestock Development Council, said the swine industry had dominated other livestock industries in terms of value and volume of production.
He commented: "In fact for the last three years, the swine industry contributed the most to the growth of the livestock subsector."
In related news, last week the Department announced it was proposing a ‘green lane’ facility for meat importers, who have a good legal compliance record.
Alcala said it would allow entry up to a maximum of six months from the period the livestock was slaughtered, with those good passing through the fast-track system only requiring minimal physical inspection.
He said: "I strongly believe that we have to protect our people from expired and expiring meat. This is a concern that should be addressed with a sense of urgency."
Adding that the Department had found several violations from meat imported from the United States and Canada among other countries.