PH works on first quarantine hub for imported meat, farm products
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to begin the construction of the country’s first border inspection facility after being delayed for a year—a long-awaited development by industry stakeholders as it is expected to be a major deterrent for smuggling and the spread of animal diseases.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar formally announced over the weekend that the agency has already begun laying the groundwork for the establishment of inspection facilities with agriculture commodity examination areas (ACEAs) in the country’s major ports, starting at Manila International Container Port.
The administration has allocated P2 billion for the project, P500 million of which was already approved by the Department of Budget and Management for the ACEA in Manila.
“The ACEAs will enable us to perform 100-percent inspection of farm commodities, especially those on high risk or ‘alert order’ status. This will help us reduce or prevent smuggling of agricultural products, and prevent the entry of major animal, plant and fish diseases that will endanger the country’s agriculture industry,” Dar said.
ACEA, with its controlled temperature environment, will capacitate quarantine officers to thoroughly inspect the contents of high-risk containerized agricultural shipments.
Each ACEA, manned by at least 39 personnel, will feature a laboratory that would allow the immediate testing of samples from commodities suspected to carry animal, fish, or plant pests or diseases and other hazardous contents.
A crematorium would also be in place to ensure the safe disposal of confirmed agricultural products with quarantine violations if these cannot be returned to their points of origin.
Dar said these infrastructures would strengthen existing measures to prevent the entry of transboundary animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and African swine fever.
Under the Food Safety Act of 2013, all food, meat and agricultural shipments must go through examination areas of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
However, the BOC only runs “close open” examinations of shipments until now, which means literally opening and closing trucks to avoid spoilage and contamination due to lack of manpower and the absence of a proper facility. INQ
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