DA: ASF incidence lower in past months

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African swine fever (ASF) incidence has fallen in the past several months, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported on Tuesday as it pledged to strengthen efforts to aid hog raisers affected by the outbreak.

In a virtual briefing, Agriculture Secretary William Medrano cited a Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) monitoring report as basis for the decrease in incidence, saying that although this was “good news,” his department would still continue to fight the disease.

“Our aim is to really stop ASF, and we have strategies to stop” it, he said in Taglish.

According to him, these included targeted communication, intensified surveillance, geotagged animal and meat movements, intentional meat and product testing, localized attack, and the “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” program.

Through this program, the government aims to complement the bureau’s ASF control and management programs and help prevent loss of livelihood due to the outbreak; protect ASF-free smallholder and commercial swine farms by improving biosecurity and proactive surveillance using the ASF Nanogold Biosensor Test Kit and PCR; and assist in repopulating once-infected farms or identifying financial-support facilities for alternative livelihood projects for ASF-affected farmers.

According to the DA official, the Central Luzon State University-developed kits greatly helped the government’s ASF virus-detection efforts as it yielded results in one hour.

The department also has P400 million for its calibrated repopulation program through its Quick Response Fund, Medrano said.

It has also a Bayanihan 2 stimulus package, of which P95 million are earmarked for multiplier breeder farms and P15 million for nucleus breeder farms, he added.

The official also said hogs from the Visayas and Mindanao continue to be shipped to Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon to stabilize pork prices and supply in the market.

“We still have a deficit this year,” he said in Taglish, adding that his department hope to resolve this through its repopulation program.

The department hopes the program would have an impact by the second quarter, and depending on supply, prices would stabilize in the third or fourth quarter.

Of the country’s 14 million hog population based, ASF has slashed 28 percent of it in Luzon and 1.7 percent in Mindanao. The Visayas remains ASF-free.

About 431,000 pigs have already been culled since the virus that causes ASF was first detected in September 2019.

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