Good news! 6 areas in Batangas become first to be declared ASF-free

Published June 21, 2021, 6:57 PM

by Betheena Unite

Six local government unit (LGUs) in Batangas have been declared free of African Swine Fever (ASF)–the first “local declaration” in the country since its outbreak last year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

(Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture)

“This is the first local declaration that happened in our country, and Region IV-A particularly Batangas once again led in battling ASF,” said Dr. Romel Marasigan, the Provincial Veterinarian of Batangas.

Five municipalities and one city were declared ASF-free on June 18, the DA said Monday, June 21.

The cleared areas include the municipalities of Rosario, Malvar, Taysan, San Jose, Nasugbu, and Lipa City.

The first case of the dreaded viral animal disease was detected in the municipality of Laurel in February 2020.

During the fight against ASF, several towns were identified as “red zones” which resulted in the restricted movement of animals in these areas.

“Challenges in the availability of test kits, facilities, laboratories were encountered. Adding [to] the pressure was the movement of man due to the pandemic, slowing down the surveillance activities, investigations, and repopulation,” the DA said.

The LGUs, the Agricultural Training Institute – International Training Center on Pig (ATI-ITCPH), National Livestock Program, hog raisers organizations, and the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners (PCSP) joined hands to form a technical working group on ASF called the “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” or BABay ASF.

“After 16 months, the public and private sector finally reaps their fruit of labor, as six out of 18 areas are declared as ASF-free zones,” the agency further said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Samuel Castro, head of the National ASF Task Force, noted that BABay ASF continues to face challenges in the Philippines but Batangas has shown that it can be done. He also encouraged the declared ASF-free areas to document their best practices in order to help other regions to move forward.

The country is currently under a state of calamity due to the ASF outbreak. The state of calamity was declared in May 2021.