A group of farmers described the Department of Agriculture’s proposed plan to use sniffing dogs to stop the entry of deadly African Swine Flu in the country as “absurd,” saying a concrete approach was needed to prevent the spread of the disease that could affect the country’s P200-billion pig industry.
“Your plan to mobilizing sniffing dogs to air and sea ports against ASF virus does not suffice. What we need is a holistic approach that addresses the peculiarity of the virus. We don’t need mere propaganda at this point where the potent virus is encroaching fast and without a sound bio-security up in place, disaster will hit our farm and backyard swine industry,” Teody de Belen, vice president of the Association of Free Framers told Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
The farmers also urged Piñol to lay down the country’s program towards preventing and controlling entry and outbreak of the ASF virus.
Piñol said the Department of Agriculture was planning to mobilize sniffing dogs at major sea and air ports to sniff at contaminated imported meats from countries affected.
“The country doesn’t have trained dogs to do this. In fact, it is quite expensive and it takes time to train these animals. Besides dogs capability to do this task is very limited. What we need is a program uniquely designed to the peculiarity of the virus,” De Belen said in a statement.
The group has raised its concern after learning that the DA was not prepared with the prospect of ASF presence in the country.
The group also wanted the Senate to probe and determine why DA quarantine officials were not following Piñol’s order to set up quarantine measures along the country’s entry points.
De Belen said the country led by the Department of Agriculture needed bio-security measures to protect the P200-billion hog industry as soon as possible since local agriculture and industry players themselves has limited information about the disease.
There is specifically a need for the DA to provide technical assistance to raise the capacity of all local government agriculture officials and the industry players and prepare them with the right precautionary measures that directly addresses the peculiarity of the ASF disease, he said.
“There’s a need to capacitate our local government units, local officials and the farmers and backyard hog raisers in provinces. They need to know what to do in order to prevent it. But if ever it gets into our borders, they need to know how to control it. So the technical assistance that can be provided by the DA is very strategic and very important at this stage,” De Belen said.
Once these information are introduced, he said there’s also huge task for the Department of Agriculture in establishing the right local and national levels coordination and communication needed as part of the entire prevention and control program against possible outbreak, he added.
Only recently, the World Organization for Animal Health released a report on March 1, 2019, listing Vietnam as the new ASF infected country.
The African swine fever is a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs. It is responsible for serious production and economic losses.
This trans-boundary animal disease can be spread by live or dead pigs, domestic or wild, and pork products.