August 18, 2022
Glimmer of hope for Philippines as country gradually recovers from ASF
A Philippine province or even a region may soon be declared free of African swine fever (ASF), indicating that the country is slowly winning its fight against the fatal hog disease.
Agriculture officials are optimistic that an entire province or region could transition from a 'yellow' zone to a 'green' zone within the year as the number of active ASF cases nationwide continue to dwindle.
The Philippines has been battling ASF since the second half of 2019.
"Hopefully, yes of course. We are hopeful," Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) assistant director Jonathan V. Sabiniano told reporters when asked if the country would see the first conversion of a yellow zone area into dark green zones.
Under the government's zoning plan, yellow zones are considered surveillance areas while green zones are ASF-free areas. The government has two types of green zones: light green which means a protected area that is free of ASF but is considered low risk as it is contiguous to yellow zones in terms of land mass; and dark green zones which is totally free of the virus.
As of August 4, the BAI has upgraded 33 municipalities from pink zones (buffer zones) to yellow zones (surveillance zones) while 203 cities and municipalities have been upgraded from red zones (infected zone) to pink zones.
Dr. Ruth S. Miclat-Sonaco, the Department of Agriculture's National Livestock Program (NLP) director, said it is possible that certain regions in the country would be upgraded from yellow zones to green zones within the year.
Dr. Miclat-Sonaco expressed optimism that one of these regions could be Region I as the provinces of Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Sur have been undertaking repopulation efforts already.
Dr. Miclat-Sonaco also pointed out that the budget for the government's anti-ASF efforts would be even bigger next year compared to this year's funding.
The Philippines may finally recover from ASF in two years' time with pork output expected to return to 1.6 million tonnes, according to joint forecasts of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Both organisations, in their 10-year Global Agricultural Outlook spanning 2022 to 2031, said the future is bright for global pig production as countries battered by ASF, such as the Philippines, China and Vietnam, may start to recover lost pig herds.
"Global pork production is projected to increase by 17% [18 tonnes] by 2031, relative to the ASF affected base period 2019-21. The sector is assumed to recover from ASF by 2023, so that almost all of the projected growth will come early in the next decade," they said. "Most additional pig meat production is expected to originate in China by 2023, as well as in the Philippines and Vietnam, where production is expected to recover from the losses of the ASF outbreak in the next two to three years."
The OECDa and FAO projected that the Philippines's pork output next year would grow by 19% to 1.311 million tonnes from this year's estimated total production of 1.10 million tonnes.
The organisations added that the country's pork production would expand further by 22.8%, reaching pre-ASF and pre-pandemic levels of over 1.6 million tonnes in 2024. From thereon, the OECD and FAO foresaw that Philippine pork production would be on an upward trend until it hits 2.157 million tonnes by 2031.