Hog raisers still positive due to limited size of ASF cull

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The piggery area -- BW FILE PHOTO

By Vincent Mariel P. Galang

THE hog industry remains positive about its prospects this year, noting that the number of animals culled in the wake of the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak remains small, while prices are also expected to rise, prompting growers to increase production.

Sabi ko naman (production will rise) this year compared last year… kasi yung na-cull lang 0.5%, so maliit lang yun sa total (We expect production to rise since the cull accounts for only 0.5% of the total swine population),” Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) Chairman Rosendo O. So said in a phone interview. SINAG is a group of agriculture industry stakeholders including hog raisers.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) the swine herd as of July 1 was 12.7 million head, down 0.6% year-on-year. Since the emergence of ASF on Luzon in July, the hog cull has resulted in the destruction of 70,000 animals.

The hog industry accounted for agriculture output by value of 15.74% of the national total, equivalent to P27.735 billion in the third quarter, according to the PSA.

The industry typically accounts for just under 16% of production value in each of the third quarters of 2018 and 2017.

Hog production grew 1.96% to 551,620 metric tons (MT) during the third quarter of 2019.

Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Ronnie D. Domingo said the industry has room to grow given the limited cull.

“Some may have stopped producing pigs, but many are sustaining if not increasing their production and preparing for the golden period when the pork prices start to increase. Some parts of Luzon especially those affected by ASF lowered their levels of production. This might be neutralized by the guarded increase in Visayas and Mindanao anticipating the supply vacuum left by Luzon pork suppliers,” he said.

According to PSA data, average the farmgate price of hogs in the third quarter was P103.66 per kilo, down 10% year-on-year.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its Food Outlook report that the Philippines will be producing 1.963 million tons of pork in 2019, up 4%, while imports will total 149,000 tons, down 8%, and exports will total 2,000 tons, little changed from a year earlier. Pork consumption is estimated at 2.11 million tons, up 3%.

Rolando T. Dy, executive director of Center for Food and Agri-Business of University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), said he projects industry growth to slow by the end of the year, but all will still depend on how the outbreak is managed.

“The fourth quarter growth could be lower, but it will depend on how ASF pans out. Pork demand appears to be dented by misguided consumer perceptions regarding ASF,” he said in a text message.

Next year, Mr. So said it would be difficult to forecast performance, and supported local government bans on the movement of pork products until a better quarantine system is put in place.

Mr. Dy added that lower demand for pork due to ASF “could bring 2020 growth (of) near one percent,” as consumers shift to consumption of chicken.