DA: Philippine livestock disease-free

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday said that the Philippines can be one of the major livestock exporters to the Southeast Asian region because it has a distinct epidemiological advantage: it is a country free from animal diseases.

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“With the Philippines being free from animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth (FMD) and peste des petits ruminants (PPR) or goat plague, we gain a bright prospect of being a choice country to import meat products from, especially in the integrated Asean market,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said.

“This gives the Philippines an edge in the international meat and meat products market, and makes it an attractive trading partner and exporter of processed meat products,” he said.

The opportunity extends to the country’s agriculture and fishery sector.|

“Our actions now will set the tone for future gains, as we exploit the country’s competitive advantage in terms of animal raising and livestock production,” Alcala said.

The World Organization for Animal Health, also known as the OIE (Office of Internationale Des Epizooties) recognized the Philippines as FMD- and PPR-free during its recent OIE 83rd General Session in Paris, France.

The Philippines was recognized as FMD-free without vaccination and PPR-free following the recommendation of the OIE Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases. Both recognitions were based on the documentation submitted by the Philippines to the OIE, and in accordance with OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code.

The Philippine government, however, has the obligation to immediately notify the OIE in case there is a change in the epidemiological situation relating to FMD and PPR in the country, Alcala said. Concerned agencies also required to report any changes in the epidemiological situation to the OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code on a yearly basis.

The DA chief said that the department has been proactively protecting this reputation with vigilant monitoring activities, as well as policies and programs that complement the country’s FMD- and PPR-free advantage.

“Along with the promotion of Good Animal Husbandry Practices (GAHP), and improving animal health services and standard requirements, among other programs, we are doubling our efforts in strengthening control of transboundary animal disease,” Alcala said.

The Department’s Bureau of Animal Industry has also been conducting regular meetings with DA regional field offices to ensure that administrative and technical needs even at the local level are in place to ensure that the country’s livestock industry is fully guarded from the threat of FMD, PPR and other transboundary animal diseases

Besides livestock, the Philippine government is also positioning corn to be one of its major exports to the region within the next three years.

Alcala said they are investing heavily on infrastructure and more post-harvest facilities to prepare the corn industry for trade liberalization.

The Philippines is a signatory to the Asean Free Trade Agreement, which will take full effect in 2015. The agreement aims to bring down to zero the duties on products coming from Asean countries.

Alcala allayed fears on the regional integration of Southeast Asian nations, with the formation of the Asean Economic Community.

“We choose to see that the free movement of goods and services will fuel the need to lower costs and propagate value-adding techniques. It will also pull stakeholders together to make the agriculture sector more competitive vis-à-vis those of other ASEAN countries,” he said.

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