MANILA -- The Philippines is eyeing the export of pork to China, which is currently beset with an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) that has reportedly resulted in the loss of roughly 50 percent of its hog population.

"We are seriously looking at the possibility of exporting pork to China because what is going on with their hog industry (due to the ASF issue)," said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol, in a press briefing on Thursday.

Piñol said that millions of hogs, including their breeders, the sows, had been culled in China as part of efforts to control the deadly disease.

"So kapag ginawa mo 'yan (So, when you do that), it will take years (for the industry) to recover," he stressed.

China is the world’s biggest pork producer, with roughly 433 million pigs, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Chinese Agriculture said that the loss of half of the country’s pigs could push prices up by as much as 70 percent.

China is estimated to have about 200,000 tons of pork in its reserves, but this is just a fraction of the supply needed to satisfy demand in the world’s biggest pork market, it said.

A total of 114 cases of ASF have been reported across China since August, resulting in the cull of over 950,000 pigs.

That is why, the DA chief said, the Philippines is strictly enforcing an import ban on pork from ASF-infected countries to protect the country's PHP200 billion hog industry.

The DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has also assigned meat-sniffing dogs in all entry and exit points of the country as part of the protective measures against the entry of ASF-infected meat and meat products.

A fine of PHP200,000 will be slapped against those caught bringing in illegal pork meat and pork products.

While it is not transmissible to humans, the ASF is fatal to live hogs. The ASF virus could also survive in processed meat products, such as siomai, corned pork, meat loaf and bacon. (PNA)