Local government units (LGUs) can now align their programs with the Bantay ASF sa Barangay (BABay ASF) program of the Department of Agriculture as they dig deep into their pockets to control the African swine fever outbreak, officially classified as a state of calamity.
ASF started in mid-2019 and became widespread in 2020, the same year that the agriculture sector battled with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and successive weather disturbances.
DA Secretary William Dar submitted the resolution to declare the ASF as a calamity on April 20, 2021 and it was signed on May 10 as Presidential Proclamation No. 1143 (Declaring a state of calamity throughout the Philippines due to the African Swine Fever outbreak).
Dar said that the belated declaration of a state of calamity, which he said was a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for the hog industry, can be attributed to a number of factors.
“The idea to declare a state of calamity did not push through immediately as initial resources has been provided for ASF prevention and control activities through the Contingent Fund of the President and Quick Response Fund (QRF) of the DA,” Dar explained.
LGUs can now tap their calamity funds for intensification of disease monitoring and surveillance; putting human resource for quarantine and border control; strengthening of biosecurity implementation; and if need be, disease control activities including depopulation of hogs.
The DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) will work closely with LGUs to ensure that their ASF contingency and action plans are aligned and consistent with the overall plan of the national government.
BAI has so far suggested that the LGUs’ QRF may be used for the provision of personal protective equipment sets and needed equipment for quarantine and checkpoint personnel; establishment and maintenance of ASF biosecurity checkpoints; implementation of ASF information campaign in partnership with the DA-BAI, hog raisers’ groups and the private sector; procurement of test kits, biologics and other needed equipment and materials; and strengthening of diagnostic capability to support early warning system, surveillance and monitoring.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, Dar announced there will be a total of 440,563 hog breeders that will be produced by government (225,103) and private-initiated (215,460) activities by 2023.
The program will be carried out through INSPIRE (Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion), a three-year hog repopulation program which starts this year.
With a combined budget of P29.6 billion, INSPIRE and its concurrent program, BABay ASF, aims to address the ASF problem.
The DA also floated loan opportunities for commercial hog raisers with concessional rates from Landbank of the Philippines, which has offered PHP30 billion.
The Development Bank of the Philippines, on the other hand, will be offering PHP12 billion for commercial hog raisers with low interest rates.
Hog raisers affected by the ASF are also offered by the government with funds to indemnify their losses.