DA consolidates backyard hog raisers into clusters

Published July 3, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

In an attempt to revive the country’s hog industry, who’s fighting a losing battle against the fatal animal disease African Swine Fever (ASF), the Department of Agriculture (DA) will try to consolidate backyard hog raisers in clusters which will make it easier for them to implement biosecurity protocols.

The intervention involves the establishment of swine multiplier farms through clustering or village-level approach composed of 20 hog farmers each.

The DA, through its livestock program, will then provide every member with five piglets each, 20 bags of animal feed, and biologics, a move that will be supported by an emergency funding of P400 million.

Right now, most of the country’s hog population are raised in backyard farms, which normally don’t follow or can’t afford to have the same strict quarantine protocols that commercial farms are implementing.

Hence, backyard farms are also the most badly hit in terms of ASF outbreaks. 

“Clustering of hog raisers will help in the mitigation of potential deficit of pork supply in the country by the end of the year. We hope that if we get the budget for it, in six months’ time, we can boost the supply,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a virtual briefing on Thursday.

In May, the DA said that the Philippines will have a deficit of 31 days in pork inventory by the end of the year.

A couple of reasons for this, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), would be the country’s strict ASF policies, which still limit the movement of pork and live animals, as well as the fact that commercial farms, which were also slightly hit by the virus, remain cautious about their restocking programs because of the continuing outbreaks.  

Dar said the clustering strategy will be first implemented in ASF-affected areas. He also designated DA Assistant Secretary for Livestock William Medrano as the project lead and implementer.  

“We have earmarked P400 million to jumpstart the economic and income-generating activities in the livestock sector, particularly in some parts of Central Luzon and CALABARZON, where ASF was prevalent last year,” Dar said.

“We must always calibrate our moves and not to lose sight of our commitment to see an empowered livestock and poultry sector, teeming with prosperous farmers. Thus, we in government will continuously provide smallholder farmers with opportunities to produce and earn more,” he added.

The clustering project is in line with the strategic interventions of Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) to be implemented by the DA’s National Livestock Program (NLP).

INSPIRE intends to speed up the recovery of the hog sector and ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of pork and pork products.

Strict observance of biosecurity measures and strong animal health support, and veterinary extension services are integrated into the program to ensure the protection of the country’s swine herd from diseases.

The other day, the DA adjusted higher the suggested retail price (SRP) for pork in Metro Manila amid the observed decline in supply.

In an administrative circular, it had set the SRP of pork pigue or kasim to P230 per kilogram (/kg) from the previous SRP of P190, while liempo’s SRP is now P250/kg from the previous P225/kg.

As of July 2, the prevailing price of pork kasim stood at P250/kg but it went as high as P270/kg, while liempo’s prices ranged from P260/kg to P300/kg, based on the price monitoring of the DA.

Under the Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, the DA has the power to implement an SRP anytime “for the information and guidance of producers, manufacturers, traders, dealers, sellers, retailers and consumers”.

ASF, while not harmful to humans, already resulted in the death and culling of more than 300,000 pigs in the country.

To control the spread of ASF in the country, Dar appealed anew to chief executives of local government units (LGUs) to help the DA in protecting their borders and apprehend unscrupulous traders from trading sick hogs and selling contaminated imported meat.