Pork still expensive despite lifting of ban on hog imports

THE PRICE OF PORK REMAINS HIGH in Virac at P330 per kilo despite the lifting of the ban on the entry of live hogs from the mainland. In Tabaco City, pork is being sold at P300 per kilo, with live weight prices reportedly ranging from P180 to P220 per kilo.

Meat vendors at the Virac public market are still selling pork at P330 per kilo two weeks after the provincial government lifted the ban on the entry of live hogs from the Bicol mainland.

The P20 decrease in the price of pork, which used to be sold at P350 per kilo, came about after a meeting between municipal officials and meat vendors at the market.

According to a meat dealer, they have been depending on the limited supply of live pigs on the island from the mainland even before the issuance of Executive Order No. 03 by Governor Joseph Cua last Jan. 24, 2022 removing the ban on entry on live hogs, pork and all pork byproducts from other provinces.

A source, however, claimed that the local traders and meat dealers buy the live pigs from Albay at a cost of P180 to P220 per kilo and have to pay about P5,000 for the sea crossing on board motorized bancas.

It was also confirmed by the Tribune that pork is being sold at P300 per kilo at Tabaco public market and that the existing live weight cost for pigs in Albay is P220 per kilo.

It may be recalled that in the latter half of 2020, African Swine Fever (ASF) spread rapidly in the island, leading to the depopulation of hundreds of infected and non-infected pigs in quarantine zones.

With the animal disease waning, the governor issued EO No. 028, s. 2021, declaring a partial lifting of the pork ban and allowing the entry of pork and pork products from ASF-free areas outside Catanduanes as long as they are covered by necessary permits.

Prior to the full lifting of the ban, the Provincial Veterinary Office headed by Dr. Jane Rubio told the governor that no more clinical cases of ASF in the island have been reported since the last depopulation of infected and suspected animals within 500-meter radius of quarantine zones last Feb. 24, 2021.

This led to the reclassification of the province from “red” to “gray” zone pending the placement of sentinel animals in previously infected farms.

These farms, Rubio said, have been subjected to thorough cleaning and disinfection, followed by the collection of environmental samples and laboratory testing at the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RADDL), with all tests yielding negative results.

“There is an urgent need to address the effects of ASF outbreak in the province to start with the rehabilitation of the swine industry to ensure the availability, adequacy and affordability of pork and pork byproducts all for the purpose of attaining food security,” Gov. Cua stated.

Under the new EO, shipments of live pigs shall be accompanied by a Veterinary Health Certificate issued by licensed farm or municipal veterinarians, or the local agriculture office, in areas where the animals originated; a Shipping Permit issued by either the regional or provincial quarantine officer or provincial veterinarian in the LGU of origin; and a Hog Transport Pass or Traders Pass for hog traders and their transport vehicles or vessels, to be issued by the Catanduanes Provincial Veterinary Office.

Last Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, the veterinary office confirmed to the Tribune that not one local hog trader has applied for the required pass, although one of them went to the office to inquire about the needed documents.

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