Private veterinarians asked to help fight ASF

Published February 15, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


As the government yet to fully get rid of the African Swine Fever (ASF), which has been threatening the Philippines’ ₱400-billion hog sector, Agriculture Chief William Dar appealed for volunteerism among the country’s private veterinarians.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar (MANILA BULLETIN)
Agriculture Secretary William Dar (MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, Dar “challenged” the private sector veterinarians to volunteer and join forces with the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) ASF Crisis Management Task Force (CMT) in the monitoring and surveillance, information dissemination, and planning on how to manage, contain, and control the spread of ASF.

“This is the time to unite and be part of a national movement to eradicate the African Swine Fever (ASF),” Dar said.

According to him, DA continues to forge strong partnerships with local chief executives, national associations of veterinarians, and hog raisers’ federations to enhance existing biosecurity and quarantine measures to effectively manage, control and contain the spread of ASF in the country.

“It is important to understand the potential impacts of ASF, so we can prepare this early the alternative plans and recovery plans,” Dar said.

Since the country’s first ASF incidence in Rodriguez, Rizal was confirmed in August 2019, the DA chief immediately formed the ASF CMT enlisting as members leaders of hog raisers’ groups, meat processors, traders, and other swine industry leaders.

The other day, President Rodrigo Duterte also signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 22, ordering 1,500 local chief executives and officials of national government agencies to harmonize efforts and strictly enforce the DA’s national zoning and movement plan for the prevention and control of ASF.

AO serves as guide on the movement protocols and trading of pork and pork products to control the spread of the ASF virus.

“It’s such a complex and dynamic environment that we are in today, but President Duterte is confident that we can handle all these big problems confronting us by enhancing our monitoring and surveillance to significantly reduce the spread of the ASF virus,” Dar said.

Since ASF crept into the backyard farms of Mindanao a few weeks ago, the government has not come up with a new strategy.

Instead, the DA only plans to intensify the implementation of a nationwide zoning plan intended to prevent the spread of ASF, a fatal animal disease among hogs.

The zoning plan was crafted by the DA as early as last year and is supposed to help the government “effectively manage, control and contain the spread of ASF.” Unfortunately, the virus was still able to spread in new areas in and outside Luzon, with Mindanao recently reporting its first few ASF outbreaks.

It was as early in November last year when DA began preparing for the national zoning plan to prevent ASF from spreading.