Only a small part of the hog industry has been hit by a still unidentified sickness that some fear is African Swine Flu or ASF, an industry association said Monday.
READ: Ilocos bans pigs, pork, by-products
In an interview with GMA News, Rosendo so, chairman of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikutura (Sinag) said only 0.002 percent of the stock of the hog industry has been affected.
As more hog deaths were reported in several areas across the country, three barangays have been declared as quarantine zones after some 100 pigs died in the area.
While the Department of Agriculture (DA) has said nothing of the suspected diseases, Taiwan has already placed the Philippines on its list of areas with a high risk of ASF.
The DA has sent blood samples from affected hogs to Europe to be tested, but the results will take at least two weeks.
Senator Cynthia Villar urged the public not to panic.
“This is just one separate incident in Rizal and it was not yet proven that it’s ASF. So we must relax,” Villar said.
“And we just [have to] observe the proper practices to make sure our hog farms are sanitary… let us not panic,” she said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the Philippine government should have a contingency plan to help people in the P280 billion a year hog industry
if tests prove that the deadly African Swine Flu is already in the country.
READ: Government should have plan if flu now in PH—Recto
“I think that a study group should be convened to assess the financial fallout in the event of a worst-case scenario,” Recto said.
Next to rice, the hog industry is the biggest sector in agriculture in terms of value. He also said the Philippines’ hog industry is 8th biggest in the world.
“We must be ahead of curve. We must be ready for every imaginable scenario. If there will be mass culling, what help can we give to the hog raisers? At this time, there should be a quiet pencil-pushing on the expenses,” Recto said.
“While Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Health protocols to contain the diseases “are in place and have been rehearsed, how to mitigate the financial disaster is, I think, an unexplored area, “ Recto said.
In a separate interview, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said they have yet to make any announcement on the matter since confirmatory tests have not yet been completed.
Last week, the Department of Agriculture sent abroad blood samples from hogs for testing of various animal diseases, including ASF.
Dar said the tests will take two weeks to three months, but the Bureau of Animal Industry has already quarantined the affected areas.
READ: Bulacan hogs culled amid swine flu signs
READ: Financial fallout from ASF feared