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EDITORIAL: Unintegrated Approach

Apparently relying on misleading information from the field, Secretary William Dar of the Department of Agriculture boldly issued a statement assuring the public that there is no shortage of pork.

If only the Secretary’s words could be served on the table of the ordinary meat consumers, that would mean magic. But he has to step down from his Ivory tower. For the information of the agriculture honcho, here in the Bicol Region many backyard hog raisers have ceased operations for at least two reasons.

These are the strategies of the NMIS of depopulating swines supposedly to contain the continuing spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF); and the unmitigated increase of prices of feeds, which force swine raisers to back out.

Secretary Dar should have realized that depopulating pigs will surely result in shortage of pork, unless replacement is readily available. More importantly, ceaselessly killing the pigs without finding ways and means to come up with the vaccine against ASF is a no brainer. Burying live pigs is without any doubt cruelty to animals. Among humans that is multiple murder or genocide.

On this regard swines in the villages raised in backyards continue being butchered clandestinely. This move has been emboldened by the demonstration of Health Secretary Francisco Doque and other high ranking officials to prove that pigs infected by ASF are safe for human consumption. If ASF does not kill humans, why can’t DA find ways and means to contain the ASF infection.

It is a pro-importation approach given that it paves the way leading to the shortage of pork and very anti-local production as well. The shortage of locally raised pigs due to depopulation is having a domino effect on rice and corn production.

Rice farmers in responding to the rapid drop of prices of freshly harvested palay have turned to drying their own harvest for stock piling with some of it being milled or caused to be milled for family consumption or direct selling. As a matter of practice, rice mills get paid in kind by way of rice bran. Of late however rice millers already refuse to get paid in kind or if ever at an almost give away price.

The situation discourages further backyard hog-raising, given that live hogs sell at a very low price although pork prices are prohibitive. It therefore neither protects the hog raisers nor the rice farmers. The very low price of yellow corn which is a major ingredient of animal feeds, has further worsened the situation. A sure way of justifying pork importation.

The left and right construction of slaughter houses is a callous strategy and ignores the very mission statement of the National Meat Inspection Services (NMIS) which reads “We shall PROTECT the meat consuming public through efficient and effective meat inspection service by adopting and implementing relevant technologies to assure MEAT SAFETY. We shall PROMOTE the development of livestock, poultry and meat industry to assure adequate supply of safe and quality meat and by-products. This shall be undertaken in collaboration with government and other industry partners thoroughly guided by the MEAT INSPECTION CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES and other relevant laws.”

The first mission seems to be partly satisfied. However promotion and development of livestock, poultry and meat industry etc., is a far cry. They can easily verify this dilemma by visiting backyard farms, which have either closed or are on the verge of suffering from heavy losses.

NMIS performs its functions in a disorganized manner, with one leg not knowing what the other leg is doing. It is a classic example of violating the very ideal strategy of integrated planning and implementation. The silence of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) is deafening. NMIS and BAI are under the umbrella of DA.

Time will come when slaughter houses shall have become virtual white elephants featuring a pig statue, with its mouth stuffed with dirty money being venerated by opportunists. Only contractors and those clothed with authority to award projects stand to benefit.

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