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AKLAN, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) recently disbursed P11.18 million in financial assistance from quick response funds to 411 Aklanon backyard raisers whose hogs were culled due to African swine fever (ASF).
Authorities have distributed P5,000 for each ASF-culled pig, with provisions to compensate up to 20 heads or up to P100,000 per household.
The financial assistance was for a total of 2,236 pigs from 10 municipalities: Tangalan, New Washington, Numancia, Malinao, Nabas, Malay, Lezo, Kalibo, Ibajay, and Balete.
In an interview with Rappler, Mark Reuben Trance, a hog farmer from Tangalan, said his entire herd of 47 swine succumbed to ASF.
When asked about his plans upon receiving the subsidy, he said he would focus on other business ventures and has no immediate plans of reinvesting in hog raising.
“Mahirap po kasi mag-risk talaga, lalo na’t hindi pa tapos ang ASF dito. ‘Yung kasama kong nag-aalaga rin, nagsimula ulit ng tatlong biik pero namatay din dahil sa virus. Focus po muna ako sa ibang business para makabawi,” he said.
(It’s really difficult to take risks again, especially since the ASF outbreak is not yet over in Aklan. My fellow hog raiser, who began raising three piglets, experienced losses again because of the virus. I will focus on other businesses first to recover.)
Still in infected zone
Dr. Maria Cyrosa Leen Mabel Siñel, head of the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian, said in an interview with Rappler that out of their inventory of around 105,000 heads of swine in the first quarter of 2023, only 20% or 21,000 heads remain in Aklan. The province has lost 80%, or 84,000 heads, due to ASF.
“Fifteen out of 17 municipalities in Aklan are still under red zones. The only areas that are not affected are the end-to-end municipalities, Buruanga and Libacao,” she said.
Siñel also said the culling of pigs is implemented in each infected municipality to eliminate the virus and prevent further transmission. Aklan culled a total of 4,530 pigs in 2023.
“We explained to the growers the importance of culling. Because the more you keep it, the more it spreads,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile, to meet consumer demand for pork, Aklan sought assistance from Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, and Romblon to help supply the needs of the province.
To prevent ASF from spreading further, authorities are teaching the remaining hog raisers in unaffected areas to tighten biosecurity measures.
“Scientifically, it will take us two to three years before we recover from ASF. That’s the time frame. The virus still remains in every corner of pigpens, even after culling the swine,” Siñel said.
Aklan is also pushing for artificial insemination (AI) to promote semen upgraded to F1 boar, preferably from Negros, to avoid inbreeding.
Christopher Inson, who is in charge of Aklan State University’s Swine Multiplier Project, said they are implementing stringent measures against ASF to continuously provide semen for AI reserves in Aklan and Capiz.
“Against ASF, we ensure strict biosecurity protocols by practicing daily disinfection. At every gate, we have installed a foot bath. When entering the farm, we implement showers in or out. Vehicles are not allowed in the production areas. Even bringing pork or pork products is strictly prohibited,” Inson explained.
They also comply with submission of blood samples to the Bureau of Animal Industry for disease surveillance and monitoring.
A state of calamity was declared in Aklan on May 19, 2023, a month after it recorded its first two ASF cases in Barangay Arcangel in Balete.
Tthe province currently maintains strict border controls for pork in Altavas, Buruanga, Nabas, Caticlan Airport, and Kalibo International Airport. – Rappler.com