DA distributes ‘sentinel’ pigs to gear up for hog repopulation mission

Published April 17, 2021, 8:12 PM

by Betheena Unite

The Department of Agriculture has started distributing what it described as sentinel pigs in areas with no reported cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in a bid to repopulate local hogs.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the distribution of the sentinel pigs will be exclusive for areas with no cases of ASF for at least 90 days., adding that the eight regions have already been recipients:  Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol Region, Davao Region, and Soccsksargen.

Dar explained that the sentinel protocol is a science-based approach that ascertains if a virus or disease is still present in an area.

“The sentinelling is a prelude to the Duterte administration’s swine repopulation program to increase hog production, and subsequently stabilize the supply and prices of pork,”Dar stressed.

“We are currently implementing the sentinelling and repopulation program in the province of Batangas, where we also launched early this year the ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay’ or BABay ASF program, in partnership with hog raisers’ groups, Batangas provincial government, Lipa City and several municipalities, private sector, academe and veterinary associations,” he added. 

Aside from Batangas, the sentinel protocol is also implemented in Benguet and Camarines Sur, according to DA-National Livestock Program  Director Ruth Miclat-Sonaco.

“Of the three provinces, Batangas is undertaking a more extensive implementation of the sentinel protocol as it hopes to regain a ‘pink zone ASF status’ sometime in May 2020,” Sonaco said.

According to the DA, participating hog raisers will receive three to five “sentinel” piglets, including feeds and supplies such as veterinary drugs, biologics and antiviral agents, during the six-month fattening period.

This move, he said, is expected to benefit 8,000 small hog raisers.

All sentinelling program participants — hog raisers, farm owners and personnel — should undergo training on biosecurity while farm facilities should conform with the minimum biosecurity standards for both smallhold and commercial farms, DA Undersecretary William Medrano said  

“The only way we will be able to make the hog sentinelling successful is through the implementation of strict biosecurity measures in the farm, which is the primary duty of swine raisers to prevent the ASF virus from entering the farms,” Dar said.

The sentinelling component of the repopulation program has an initial budget of P400 million, which is part of the P2.4-billion swine repopulation program.

Another P200M is allocated for the swine breeder multiplier farms to ensure a continuous source of piglets for the subsequent expansion of the swine repopulation program, while the remaining P1.2B is allotted for the biosecurity and surveillance program of the BAbay ASF.