Communities identified as special areas for agricultural development (SAAD) and have been tagged as African swine fever (ASF)-free are tapped for the repopulation program of the Department of Agriculture in the Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-CAR).
DA-CAR regional director Cameron Odsey, in a phone interview on Friday, said "piglet dispersal" is among the activities done under the SAAD program.
“Nagbibigay tayo ng piglet at mga pagkain para makapagpalaki ang residents (We give piglets and feeds to allow residents to raise the animals). Kapag nanganak (when it gives birth), the resident is asked to return a female piglet which we again distribute to the others who are interested in hog raising,” Odsey said.
The SAAD program, a locally funded initiative of the government via the DA, gives livelihood support to residents in identified poor villages in Kalinga, Apayao, and Mountain Province to help provide income to the families and encourage them to venture into agribusiness.
Odsey said the system used in the DA's swine repopulation program was put in place to prevent ASF-infected piglets bought outside the region from entering Cordillera communities.
Odsey, a veterinarian, said while it will take a longer time for the region to raise the needed hogs for internal consumption, such a system was thought of as a better alternative, than rushing the repopulation only for the ASF problem to continue.
He said the region only has a few commercial hog farms and most of those engaged in swine production are backyard raisers with less than 10 heads each.
The region experienced three waves of ASF infection -- from October 2019 to February 2020; from June to September 2020 which affected 22 municipalities in four provinces; and the third wave was in January to May 2022.
As of May 23, 2022, a total of 12 light green municipalities, 18 buffer municipalities, and 46 red zone municipalities have control measures and sentinel animal distribution underway for the upgrading of zones from red to pink.
From 2019 to the present, the government infused a total of PHP240,522,902 to address the ASF problem in the region.
DA-CAR records also showed that 261 cases of ASF have led to the death and depopulation of 8,811 pigs that are either affected or are within the six-kilometer radius from where a case was recorded.
A DA-CAR inventory in September 2021 also showed there are 23,815 backyard hog raisers in Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province with 89,466 heads.
Source: Philippines News Agency