DA to start swine repopulation program as ASF continues to subside

Published March 30, 2021, 8:29 PM

by Betheena Kae Unite

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will start to implement its P600-million swine repopulation program in areas previously affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) that are no longer under quarantine.

These areas are now classified as “pink” and “yellow” zones.

“We are heartened that the ASF incidence is waning, which as of March 26, 2021, has registered 253 cases, versus 358 cases in January 2021, [and] 330 cases in February 2021,” Agriculture Sec. William Dar said.

He said the highest monthly infection level ever recorded was the 1,773 cases in August 2020.

Pink zones serve as a buffer where ASF is not present, but is adjacent to an infected zone. It may also be an area that was previously infected,  but the ASF virus has not been detected there for at least 90 days, and thus has recovered from infected status.

Yellow zones or surveillance zones, on the other hand, include provinces that are high-risk areas because of the dense population of swine and volume of trade of pigs, pork, and pork products.

“We will implement Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion  (INSPIRE) through the ‘sentinel’ approach initially in the first eight regions affected by ASF, benefiting 8,000 backyard raisers, who will be grouped into 500 clusters,” Dar explained.

The eight regions are Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol Region, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, and Cordillera.

The sentinel approach is the limited placement of pigs to ascertain whether or not the ASF virus is still present in the test area.

According to Usec William Medrano, the project beneficiaries will each receive three to five “sentinel” piglets, including feeds, veterinary drugs, biologics and anti-viral agents during the six-month fattening period. The sentinel component entails an initial budget of P400 million under the INSPIRE program.

The remaining P200 million is allocated for the INSPIRE multiplier breeder component to ensure continuous source of piglets for the subsequent expansion of the swine repopulation program.