The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) is in talks with its US counterpart to secure vaccines against the African swine fever, which decimated much of the local hog population and caused pork prices to jack up.

“Nakikipag-ugnayan na tayo US Department of Agriculture para mabigyan tayo ng sample ng [ASF] vaccine na tini-testing na sa Vietnam,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes said in an interview on Dobol B TV on Saturday.

“Maglalaan ng pondo ang DA para sa posibleng bakuna laban sa ASF,” he said.

The Philippines has been grappling with the ASF problem since 2019. It is estimated that over four million pigs have disappeared from the country’s overall pig population due to the disease.

The decimation of hog population caused pork supply constraints, which resulted in higher wholesale and retail prices.

In January, consumers saw meat prices, particularly pork, jack up as much as P400 per kilo in Metro Manila markets due to supply constraints as the African swine fever (ASF) decimated much of the hog population. 

To arrest rising prices, which the DA blamed on unscrupulous traders and wholesalers who took advantage of the ASF situation, President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order imposing a 60-day price cap on pork and chicken in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

Under the EO, the price of kasim and pigue should not exceed P270 per kilo. The President also fixed the price ceiling for liempo and dressed chicken at P300 and P160, respectively.

Apart from the price ceiling, the DA also subsidized the transportation cost of live pig and pig carcass shipments to Metro Manila from areas with supply surplus.

“Umabot sa 7,000 mahigit ang baboy na naipadala including 1,500 carcasses sa NCR,” Reyes said.

He said the number of pigs shipped to Metro Manila will be “more than enough” to fill the supply gap in the region.

“Bago po nangyari ang price ceiling at ASF, ang kinakatay na baboy sa Metro Manila ay nasa 4,000,” the DA official said. —KG, GMA News