PHILIPPINES – Farming organizations in the Philippines have expressed opposition to a recent government move to ease restrictions on imports of feed ingredients, citing a risk of introducing the African swine fever (ASF) virus.

The government recently authorized incoming trade in processed animal proteins (PAP) for inclusion in fish feeds, overthrowing its March ban on the products. The source of these ingredients is however believed to include countries affected by ASF, reports Business World Online.

According to one farming organization, more than three million hogs have been affected by ASF through mortality or culling, since the disease’s first detection in the country’s pigs in 2019. Thus, thousands of pig owners in the Philippines have lost their livelihoods.

It says that the department has stated that the ASF virus can be transmitted in feed, and this threatens the recovery of the sector.

In contrast, the easing of import restrictions could provide a much-needed boost to the aquaculture sector, according to that industry’s association. It would also increase access to affordable protein by the Philippine population.

“PAP is a key, irreplaceable ingredient for aquaculture feed, and its production process can be expected to kill the ASF virus,” stated a Senior Executive with Feedmix Specialist II Inc.

Italy which is among the main sources of porcine PAP for aquaculture, reported its first case of ASF in wild boar. The disease has since been confirmed in three Italian regions, almost exclusively among the wild population.

ASF in the Philippines

Around the start of August, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported that approximately 100 pigs were culled due to ASF in Norala.

Meanwhile, the same source reports that ASF has been detected in all seven districts of Zamboanga city, in the northwest of Mindanao.

According to PNA, three regions of the Philippines have remained free of ASF since the disease was first detected in the country in 2019.

Following previous outbreaks and a period of pig depopulation and disinfection, hog raising is allowed to resume in a controlled manner.

Over the past two weeks, around 250 former owners in Central Luzon have each received three young pigs, along with essential feed.

These animals will be closely monitored as they serve as sentinels in case of any lingering disease risk. Recipients were cautioned against feeding their pigs on food waste, which carries the risk of ASF virus contamination.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines ASF as a viral disease affecting pigs and wild boar with up to 100% case fatality rate. Since the Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed the first outbreak started in July 2019, as of July 2022, 53 provinces, 704 cities and municipalities, and 3 832 barangays have experienced ASF outbreaks, says FAO.

Since the return of the infection in December 2021, ASF has impacted around 900 pig owners, leading to total losses of PHP26 million (US$496,000), reports Inquirer.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Safety Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food safety, quality and compliance. SUBSCRIBE HERE