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Meat inspection facility expected to be completed at MICT by December

A FACILITY to inspect imported meat, which farmers have called critical for preventing the further spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), is expected to be completed by December at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), an agriculture department official said.

At a virtual briefing Thursday, Department of Agriculture National Livestock Program Director Ruth S. Miclat-Sonaco said: “The facility is projected to be done within the year, around December, if everything goes well. Then hopefully by next year, the other facilities will be established at Batangas, Subic, Cebu, and Davao.”

Farmers have blamed imported meat as the source of the ASF outbreak, and called the establishment of the facility critical to limiting the further spread of the hog disease, which has depleted the Luzon herd and made pork more expensive, threatening another inflation crisis.

In a statement Thursday, the Philippine Maize Federation, Inc. (PhilMaize) and the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) said they consider the facility to be critical in preventing the spread of ASF, and expressed hope that construction will proceed without delay.

“ASF as we know comes from outside of our country.  We are very strict and compliant with all protocols in our movements from within our territory. Yet we failed (to prevent the disease from getting through) the borders,” PhilMaize President Roger V. Navarro said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has said that the first meat inspection facility which will go up at the MICT, to be known as an agricultural commodity examination area, will cost P521.57 million.

PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto urged the government to undertake a major hog vaccination campaign.

Mr. Fausto said the DA and Bureau of Animal Industry should procure ASF vaccines from Vietnam, adding that the spread can be mitigated with the use of rapid test kits developed by the Central Luzon State University.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar has said that the DA is in talks with suppliers in the UK and Vietnam for the possible ASF vaccine trials. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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