The Department of Agriculture (DA) has issued a compelling call to hog raisers in the Calabarzon region to persevere and continue raising pigs despite the persistent threat of African swine fever (ASF). This initiative aims to ensure an ample supply of pork during the extended Christmas season in the Philippines. Dr. Jerome Cuasay, the focal person for the livestock program, underlines the importance of supporting hog raisers and livestock production, emphasizing that the DA is ready to offer assistance through the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) of the Livestock Program.
The assistance provided by the DA encompasses a variety of measures designed to bolster the hog-raising sector. These measures include the establishment of state-of-the-art facilities, the provision of essential resources such as piglets, feed, and disinfectants, and a strong emphasis on biosecurity. The urgent nature of this endeavor stems from the need to boost pork production in the Calabarzon region.
Dr. Cuasay highlights the significance of the INSPIRE program, especially as the year-end ‘ber’ months approach. During this period, there is traditionally a surge in demand for meat, particularly pork. The continued support for hog raisers and the resulting steady supply of pork in the local market is crucial to meet this heightened demand during the holiday season. This initiative is poised to counter the steady decline in pork supply since the ASF outbreak began impacting piggeries across the country in 2019.
Both commercial piggeries and backyard hog raisers have felt the adverse effects of the ASF outbreak, with some being compelled to cease their operations altogether. In an attempt to mitigate the impact of the ASF outbreak on affected hog farmers, the DA had previously offered alternative sources of income, such as raising cows, carabaos, and goats. Nevertheless, in light of the impending pork shortage, the DA is now shifting its focus back to promoting pig-rearing activities through the INSPIRE program.
Dr. Cuasay reveals that the DA took significant steps last year in establishing fattening facilities for hogs across the region. These facilities are distributed across the five provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon. This year, the department plans to expand these facilities further, with 30 additional sites in the pipeline. These facilities are vital for accommodating swine owned by backyard farmers and cooperatives.
One of the crucial aspects of these facilities is their stringent biosecurity protocols. Ensuring that the ASF virus remains out of these facilities is a top priority. By maintaining biosecurity, the DA aims to create a safe and conducive environment for swine production.
Dr. Cuasay underscores that the primary beneficiaries of the INSPIRE program are farmer cooperative associations (FCAs). These associations play a pivotal role in strengthening the swine industry in the region. To illustrate the program’s impact, he cites the Gulayamanan Agriculture Cooperative in the town of Bauan, Batangas, which recently received substantial support from the DA. The cooperative was granted PHP10 million worth of facilities and resources, including bio-secured and climate-controlled finisher operation facilities, starter and grower feeds, piglets, and disinfectants.
In the face of the persistent ASF threat, Dr. Cuasay urges all hog raisers to remain vigilant and closely monitor their areas for any signs of the disease. If any ASF cases are suspected, they should be reported promptly to the DA or their respective local government units to prevent the spread of the disease and protect the swine industry.
In conclusion, the DA’s commitment to supporting hog raisers and promoting pork production in the Calabarzon region is essential not only for the livelihoods of farmers but also for ensuring a steady and reliable supply of pork to meet the heightened demand during the Christmas season. Through the INSPIRE program, the department is making significant investments in infrastructure and biosecurity measures, all aimed at securing the region’s swine industry and helping it thrive despite the persistent challenges posed by ASF.
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