Benguet’s ban on entry of live pigs increase prices of pork
The weeklong ban imposed by the provincial government of Benguet on the entry of live hogs as containment effort against the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) has affected the supply and prices of pork in Baguio City.
Trucks delivering pigs and pork pro-ducts to Baguio City need to pass through Tuba, Benguet.
Before the ban, 300 to 350 pigs are brought into Baguio daily. During the ban, only an average of 150 to 200 pigs daily was allowed to enter Baguio for butchering at the city abattoir.
Asst. City Veterinarian Silardo Bested said the limited supply has resulted in a 10 percent increase in the prices of fresh pork products.
From P220 per kilo, prices went up to as high as P250 per kilo.
Benguet Provincial Veterinarian Miriam Tiongan said the provincial government lifted the ban on Feb. 14, following their completion of the inventory of pigs, meeting with barangay officials especially in communities where there are confirmed cases of ASF, and depopulated infected pigs.
Department of Agriculture- Cordillera Executive Director Cameron Odsey said Baguio has been gravely affected by the ban because it is primarily a consumer, not a producer of pork and its byproducts. “Lalo na ngayon na wala nang mga babuyan (backyard piggeries),” he said.
Except for Baguio, all provinces in the region have sufficient supply of pork.
Baguio’s supply of pork comes mostly from Pangasinan and Tarlac where ASF cases have recently been documented.
Bested assured that all pork sold at the city public market are safe to eat as pigs brought into the city abattoir undergo several layers of inspection before butchering.
During transit from the source to the slaughterhouse, pigs are first checked by the Bureau of Animal Quarantine. Upon reaching the abattoir, the pigs are made to rest for at least six hours where veterinarians also check the animals for any abnormality. During butchering, the meat undergoes another round of inspection by the National Meat Inspection Commission before these are distributed to retailers at the market.
“I assure the public that pork sold at the market are safe to eat. Dumaan po ang mga ito sa masusing inspection,” Bested said.
NMIS Regional Technical Service Head Lilia Juliana said the agency also inspects wet markets and supermarkets to ensure that all meat products sold passed their quality control measures.
The infection of pigs in Benguet was due to the smuggling of pigs which was bought online then delivered using a private vehicle and feeding of pigs with swill or food wastes, Tiongan revealed.
To avoid the spread of ASF, the DA advised the public to buy only from stores that sell NMIS-certified meat, for traders to buy only from reputable hog-raisers, and for farmers not to feed pigs with food scraps and follow biosecurity measures. – Rimaliza A. Opiña