DA sees faster detection with Filipino-made ASF test kits

Marje Pelayo   •   January 25, 2021   •   966

A city veterinarian (R) takes a blood sample from a pig in a backyard piggery to test for African Swine Fever (ASF) in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 17 September 2019. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is initially allotting P80 million for the development and mass production of Filipino-made test kits that can detect the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF) faster and cheaper.

The move is part of the current nationwide biosecurity and surveillance program called “BABay ASF” (Bantay ASF sa Barangay) initiated by the Department.

“We are allocating an initial P80 million through the DA-National Livestock Program (NLP) and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to mass-produce and distribute to local government units (LGUs) 

The test kit, called “ASFV Nanogold Biosensor” is developed by Dr. Clarissa Yvonne Domingo of the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in partnership with the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

Secretary William Dar said part of the P80-M budget for the “BABay ASF” program will be provided by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) to augment the mass production of test kits in partnership with other interested private firms and state universities and colleges (SUCs).

The CLSU-BAI team will soon acquire robotic equipment to efficiently mass-produce the test kit.

“With this development, the DA-BAI personnel and LGU veterinarians can now administer the kit for biosecurity measures, profiling of farms for repopulation, and surveillance and monitoring activities, at a much faster rate right at the so-called ‘ground-zero’ and more economical,” the DA chief said.

“We can even have these test kits on standby at the port of entries for a quick sampling of the meat products entering the country,” he added.

The rapid test kits are easy to use and can differentiate ASF virus from hog cholera and other swine-related viruses through nucleic acid-based tests. 

It was tested in 32 commercial and nine backyard farms in Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija.

Preliminary results showed high accuracy and detection rate using the test kits.

Results of BAI laboratory tests for priority areas can be obtained within the day, but analysis usually takes two working days.

The ASF test kit, which comes with all the consumables, costs P3,500, good for 10 samples or P350 per sample.

Courtesy of Department of Agriculture

Phl inflation slows down in November — PSA

Maris Federez   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The inflation rate in the country slowed down in November, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported Tuesday (December 7).

The PSA said the country’s inflation “continued to exhibit a slower pace as it eased further to 4.2 percent in November 2021, from 4.6 percent in October 2021”.

The average inflation from January to November 2021 remained at 4.5 percent. Inflation in November 2020 was posted at 3.3 percent.

The reason behind the downtrend in the overall inflation in November 2021 was the slow movement in the price index of food and non-alcoholic beverages at 3.9 percent inflation.

“Ang dahilan ng pagbagal ng antas ng inflation nitong  Nobyembre 2021 ay ang mas mabagal na paggalaw ng presyo ng food and non-alcoholic beverages na may 3.9 % inflation at  93.2 % share sa pagbaba ng pangkalahatang inflation sa bansa,” PSA national statistician Dennis Claire Mapa said.

In addition, lower inflation was also recorded in the price of alcoholic beverages and tobacco at 7.5 percent, and furnishing, household equipment, and routine maintenance of the house at 2.4 percent.

A downward trend was also registered in the inflation for food index as it slowed down further to 4.1 percent in November 2021, from 5.6 percent in the previous month.

By specific food item, the annual growth rate of vegetables dropped by -1.8 percent during the month, after posting a double-digit annual increase of 11.4 percent in October 2021.

Moreover, annual increases in the indices of meat and fish, slid at 10.7 and 7.9 percent, respectively.

However, on a month-on-month basis, both meat and pork recorded positive inflation at 2.4 and 4.2 percent, respectively.

“Pork prices continuously went down month-on-month from July to early-October. This means that our policy to temporarily import pork has been effective. However, the uptick in prices in November shows that we need to further ease administrative requirements for the unloading and distribution of stocks to encourage more importation and help bring back pork prices to their pre-African Swine Fever level,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.

On the other hand, the PSA also noted that non-food inflation slightly rose to 4.1 percent from 3.8 percent for the same period.

This was caused mainly by high international crude oil prices, which drove up transport inflation to 8.8 percent from 7.1 percent.

Slight increase in inflation was also reflected in housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels at 4.6 percent from 4.4 percent. —/mbmf

4 na probinsya sa Cagayan Valley, tinamaan ng ASF

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 31, 2021

Muling nakapagtala ng mga kaso ng African Swine Fever (ASF) ang apat na probinsya sa Cagayan Valley Region. Kabilang dito ang probinsya ng Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Quirino at Cagayan.

Mahigit 20 mga bayan na lamang sa mga ito ang ASF-free habang nanatiling walang kaso ng ASF sa probinsya ng Batanes.

Ayon sa regional director ng Department of Agriculture Region 2 na si Director Narciso Edillo, isa sa itinuturong dahilan ng paglaganap ng ASF sa rehiyon ay ang kakulangan sa paghihigpit sa inter-municipal ASF checkpoint kaya naman naipupuslit ang mga kontaminadong karne.

Sa ulat ni Edillo, nagsimula na ang mga disinfection sa mga farm upang masiguro sa hindi lumala ang paglaganap ng ASF sa lugar.

“Nagkaroon ng disinfection ng mga farm and backyards, lalo na yung mga backyards kasi dito sa Region II 95% ng backyards ina-apply natin yung mga biosecurity,” aniya.

Aabot sa 1,411 hog farmers ang apektado ng ASF sa rehiyon at nasa 5,500 na baboy na ang isinailalim sa culling.

Bilang tulong sa mga hog farmers nagbigay naman ang mga lokal na pamahalaan ng P3,000 kada isang baboy na naapektuhan ng ASF.

Mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ng DA at ng Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) ang pag labas-pasok ng mga kontaminadong karne ng baboy.

Tinukoy naman na under control ang kaso ng ASF sa apat na probinsya sa Region 2.

Samantala, isinailalim naman sa red zone (infected zone) ang Laoag City matapos ring makapagtala ng kaso ng ASF sa ilang barangay.

Aabot sa mahigit 5,000 baboy na ang natukoy ng DA na apektado ng ASF. Binigyan rin ng tulong pinansiyal ang mga hog raisers sa Laoag City para sa mga baboy na naapektuhan ng ASF.

Patuloy ang isinasagawang testing at pag-control sa mga kaso ng ASF sa dalawang rehiyon.

Local hog industry laments competition with low-priced imported pork

Marje Pelayo   •   August 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Local hog raisers are complaining about competing with imported pork in local markets that is considerably cheaper than their produce.

“Hindi po namin kaya ang presyo ng imported. As of now, if we follow the price of imported, all of us will lose money, not only here in Luzon but in Visayas and Mindanao,” said Chester Warren Tan, president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc.

Tan said they are spending huge amounts of money on buying imported feeds for their hogs.

Based on data presented by Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo during the hearing in Congress on Tuesday (August 10), the price of frozen pork ranges from P220 to P250 per kilogram in supermarkets.

“All 84 stores within the National Capital Region are participating in the Presyong Resonable dapat all frozen meat,” Castelo said.

But based on the data gathered by the Department of Agriculture (DA) from local wet markets, the price of pork ranges from P320 to P360 per kilogram.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said, once imported meat gets into the local market, the price of pork is expected to drop.

“As volume comes sa supply augmentation nga natin out of the MAV plus, itong period hanggang October nga po ay merong naka-calibrate na 140,000 metric tons. If many of these will arrive slowly it will also impact the prices of local pork,” Dar explained.

This alarms local hog raisers.

“As local producers umaasa po kami sa fresh sa wet market. Kung ang gusto po ng Department of Agriculture na mangyari is to push sa wet market yung frozen product, ano ang mangyayari sa local producers? Ibig sabihin huminto na lamang kami,” said Tan.

But the DA said there are existing programs designed to help local hog raisers.

One is the agency’s repopulation program for hog raisers affected by the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) and the DA’s P42 billion loan program.

As of August 10, only 29 barangays still have active cases of ASF in the country which is a big improvement, according to the DA.

Meanwhile, a total of 468 municipalities have been declared ASF-free. Nevertheless, Dar said the problem is still here.

“I did not claim that wala ng problema sa ASF. Meron pa rin tayo. Lingering nga. Itong ASF has contributed so much in reducing the supply and inventory,” he said.

Thus, the DA Secretary is asking Congress to provide them an additional P6.6 billion funding  to help the local hog industry recover from the impact of ASF.

“Kasama of course ang Kongreso kasi kayo ang nag-approve. P1.5 billion lang. So will that be enough for repopulation? No. We need additional P6.6 billion this year,” Dar said. MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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