Initial batch of piglets to repopulate hog farms delivered to Batangas

THE initial batch of pigs intended to repopulate farms devastated by African Swine Fever (ASF) has been delivered to Batangas and other areas that have been ASF-free for at least 90 days, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement over the weekend that the ‘sentinel pigs” — so called because they serve as early warning for the presence of ASF before larger-scale repopulation proceeds — will be initially implemented in eight regions — Ilocos, Cagayan Valley. Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol, the Cordillera Administrative Region, Davao, and Soccsksargen. The beneficiaries are about 8,000 small hog-raising businesses, Mr. Dar said.

“We are currently implementing the sentinel and repopulation program in the province of Batangas, where we also launched early this year the ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay‘ surveillance and biosecurity program, in partnership with hog raisers’ groups, the Batangas provincial government, Lipa City and several municipalities, the private sector, academe and veterinary associations,” he said.

Ruth S. Miclat-Sonaco, DA National Livestock program director, said the sentinel approach is also being implemented in Benguet and Camarines Sur.

“Of the three provinces, Batangas is undertaking a more extensive implementation of the sentinel protocol as it hopes to regain a pink zone ASF status sometime in May 2020,” Ms. Miclat-Sonaco said.

Agriculture Undersecretary William C. Medrano said all participants in the sentinel program should be trained in biosecurity measures, adding that the farm facilities should meet minimum biosecurity standards for smallholder and commercial pig farms.

Mr. Dar said the DA will provide the sentinel package, while monitoring and technical assistance will be supplied by local government units. Hog raisers will be given three to five sentinel piglets including feed, veterinary drugs, biologics, and anti-viral agents during the six-month fattening period.

“The ASF incidence has significantly gone down from 3,060 in the third quarter of 2020 to 935 in the first quarter of 2021, but our fight is not over, we have a long way to go to get back to where we were,” Mr. Dar said.

The DA has said P400 million was initially allocated to the sentinel initiative, P200 million for swine breeder multiplier farms to ensure a stable source of piglets, and P1.2 billion for biosecurity and surveillance. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave