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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Bulacan hogs culled amid swine flu signs

Some 81 hogs were killed in Guiguinto, Bulacan after these showed symptoms of hog cholera and African swine fever (ASF), municipal veterinarian Dr. Eduardo Jose was quoted as saying in a report on GMA News’ Balitanghali, beamed nationwide on Saturday.

Blood samples were taken from the hogs—each costing up to P10,000—to check what caused their illness but were already culled and buried even before the blood sample results were submitted.

The unidentified backyard farm owner got payment for the hogs, with authorities continuing their inspection of backyard piggery farms.

Meanwhile, a first-term legislator has urged hog raisers, including those in his district, in areas where a still unidentified strain of swine disease was monitored, to cooperate with agriculture authorities to contain the possible threats to their livestock.

Rep. Juan Fidel Nograles of Rizal particularly appealed to swine raisers in Montalban, Rizal, to cooperate with the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry, the local government, and other authorities tasked to monitor and prevent the possible spread of the disease.

Nograles urged swine farm owners to comply with DA protocols in place in three barangays in Montalban—Macabud, San Isidro, and San Jose—that have been quarantined because of reports of the increasing number of hog deaths in the three localities.

Affected backyard swine farmers said their pigs showed loss of appetite, recumbency, vomiting,  skin hemorrhage, dark discoloration in the extremities, and sudden death.

The DA-BAI said several diseases, including ASF, could be associated with the clinical signs. Results of tests conducted on affected animals will be available by two weeks at the earliest.

“While the DA has yet to confirm the cause of these deaths, it is in the best interests of all hog farmers to strictly comply with DA-BAI directives regarding the matter,” said Nograles.

The Agriculture department implemented its “one-seven-ten” policy over the weekend as part of efforts to quarantine and depopulate the affected areas. 

The “one-seven-ten” protocol requires all hogs within a one-kilometer radius be culled, while those in seven- and 10-kilometer radiuses will be strictly monitored.

The lawyer said, “the priority now is to prevent the spread of whatever is causing these deaths to other parts of Montalban.”

“Among all regions in the country, Region 4A or Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) is the second-largest hog producer. If we allow this affliction to spread to other towns, other provinces in the region, a heavy blow to the swine industry will be experienced,” he added.

“Our neighbors are now depending on us in the district to do our best to limit the damage caused by this disease.”

In 2018, the total volume of hog production in the country was 2,319,764 metric tons, while the total volume of hog production in Calabarzon was 381,590 metric tons. The total volume of hog production in the province of Rizal, on the other hand, was 89,576 metric tons.

The livestock industry has recently experienced positive growth. 

In 2018, the gross value of hog production at current prices was P268 billion, 10.8 percent higher than the gross value of hog production of P241.9 billion in 2017. 

Earlier on Thursday, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the government should open up a new front in the contingency preparations for ASF to help the people in the P280-billion-a-year industry if tests prove that the deadly disease is already here.

“I think that a study group should be convened to assess the financial fallout in the event of a worst-case scenario,” Recto said.

He added: “Next to rice, the hog industry is the biggest in agriculture in terms of value. It is also the eighth biggest in the world. 

“While Department of Agriculture and Department of Health protocols to contain the diseases “are in place and have been rehearsed, how to mitigate the financial disaster is, I think, an unexplored area. We must be ahead of the curve.”

Recto said preparing an assistance package for the hundreds of thousands of people dependent on the local hog industry “is beyond the mandate” of the Agriculture department.

“Of all the powers of the DA secretary, the power to appropriate or to release allotments is not one of them,” Recto said.

“It is something that is discussed in the highest levels of government, in the Cabinet, in both houses of Congress, more so if it requires a huge amount of money to bridge financing,” Recto said.

He said the hog industry was a pillar of the Philippine economy, with millions earning a living on the swine supply chain.

With annual production nearing 2.3 metric tons, he said, it is the eighth biggest in the world by volume.

Any production disruption would be felt on Filipino dining tables, Recto said.

“Remember, this is the land of lechon, the national fiesta food; adobo, the national comfort food; sisig is one of the pambansang pulutans; and longganisa and tocino are the breakfast of champions.”

Four years ago, Filipino families were already buying P101 billion worth of fresh pork alone.

READ: Government should have plan if flu now in PH—Recto

READ: Financial fallout from ASF feared

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