The pigs from Malaysia are lifted out of the vessel for loading onto the truck on Saturday. (Photo taken from Today Online)

SINGAPORE: The first shipment of live pigs from Malaysia in 18 years arrived in Singapore on Saturday, providing the Republic with a second source of live pigs, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said in a statement.

Imports of live pigs and raw pork from Malaysia were suspended in 1999 due to a Nipah virus outbreak. Since then, Singapore had only received imports of live pigs from from Pulau Bulan in Indonesia.

Following an assessment of Sarawak’s animal and veterinary public health programme, the AVA approved local pork processor and distributor OJJ Foods Pte Ltd to import the live pigs from a Sarawak farm this year.

This comes two years after the ban of frozen pork from the Malaysian state was lifted in 2015.

In a news release on Saturday, the AVA said source diversification is a key food security strategy.

“Purchasing from diverse sources provides a crucial buffer against potential short-term overseas food supply disruptions from any one source,” the authority added.

Managing director of OJJ Foods, Ting Puong Huat, 61, said his company has been working with the farm in Kuching for several years.

“We worked closely with the farm to make sure that they understand Singapore’s requirements. This took many years to get to that level,” he said.

“The pigs are of very good genetics and lean. The colour and the taste are suited for local consumers,” Ting added.

Meanwhile, the World Organisation for Animal Health has also recognised Sarawak as a Foot Mouth Disease (FMD) free region since 2010.

However, the ban of raw pork from other parts of Malaysia still stays due to the presence of FMD in these areas, which may jeopardise Singapore’s FMD-free status and adversely impact export trade.

Only processed pork products from approved establishments in Malaysia that have been heat-treated to inactivate FMD are allowed to be imported from Malaysia.

Singapore’s pork supply comes from 24 countries that have been accredited by the AVA for frozen pork products, and six countries — including Australia, Canada and USA — can export chilled pork to Singapore.

Indonesia (Pulau Bulan) and now Malaysia (Sarawak), are accredited to export live pigs to Singapore. These pigs are slaughtered locally and sold as chilled pork.

Over 90 per cent of food supply in Singapore over the past two years was imported from some 170 countries worldwide. – TODAY ONLINE

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