Sep 2, 2011
Philippines may export chicken to China, Vietnam
The Philippines is keen on selling frozen chicken to China and Vietnam following a report from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that a new strain of the bird-flu virus is affecting the two countries.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador S. Salacup asaid that the country is now 93% self-sufficient in poultry production which will make China and Vietnam ideal markets for chicken, adding that these countries can no longer rely on their own production.
Salacup noted that neighbouring Asian countries can safely import their chicken requirement from the Philippines which remains bird-flu free.
Currently, Japan is a major buyer of yakitori chicken from poultry integrator San Miguel Foods Inc. The company expects to increase shipments by 27% despite the devastating impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Salacup also assured that the government will undertake the necessary measures including the tighter monitoring of ports of entry in the Philippines to protect the local poultry population.
The Philippines does not import chicken from China and Vietnam. Because of the presence of avian influenza in Vietnam, the Philippine government continues to impose a ban on Vietnamese poultry products.
On Tuesday the FAO urged heightened readiness and surveillance against a possible major resurgence of the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) amid signs that the mutant strain of the deadly bird-flu virus is spreading in Asia and beyond.
FAO noted that outbreaks have risen progressively since mid-2008, with almost 800 cases recorded in 2010-11. Outbreaks in domestic poultry and wild bird populations shrank steadily from an annual peak of 4,000 to just 302 in mid-2008.
FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth said the year 2008 marked the beginning of a renewed geographic expansion of the H5N1 virus both in poultry and wild birds as the malady appears to be associated with migratory bird movements.
Lubroth noted that migrations help the virus travel over long distances so that the H5N1 has in the past 24 months shown up in poultry or wild birds in countries that had been virus-free for several years.
Wild birds may introduce the virus but peoples' actions in poultry production and marketing spread it, he said.
Areas recently affected by H5N1 are found in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Bulgaria, Romania, Nepal and Mongolia.
Lubroth added that a further cause for concern is the appearance in China and Vietnam of a variant virus apparently able to sidestep the defences provided by existing vaccines.
FAO noted that in Vietnam which suspended its springtime vaccination campaign this year, most of the northern and central parts of the country have been invaded by the new virus strain known as H5N1-126.96.36.199.