By John Noel E. Herrera
The Iloilo Provincial Government is bracing for a possible shortage of pork supply in the province as the African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to spread, already affecting 18 towns.
In a press conference on Friday, Jan 27, 2023, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said that the provincial government has a “standing directive” to monitor the inventory of pork and swine in the province.
Defensor said ASF-infected towns in the province are not yet in the recovery stage, wherein they can already start the repopulation of pigs.
“Kay from October (2022), naga-dispose kita sang aton nga pigs, not because of depopulation, but because the industry dasig magbaligya, and wala kita naga-replenish dayon kay hindi pa man pwede kung red zone ka, and ang farmers hesitant man magbakal pigs kay may risgo pa, so gina-monitor naton ang supply and we discuss that and trying to make a projection three months from now. Kay ti three months from now kung wala sang bag-o nga idik subong, ti three months from now, mabuhinan man aton nga ilihawon diri, we are preparing the markets kung diin kita mabakal.” Defensor said.
“Taking it from this, that is why we met with the provincial price control council kay ang aton subong engkwentro not just against ASF, pati na ang supply. Naga-hana kita nga batu-an ang supply,” he stressed.
Defensor also said that it is important to rebuild the confidence of farmers in the hog-raising business, as the provincial government also has recovery measures to determine whether a specific area can already start the repopulation of pigs.
“We have recovery measures sa red zone and may timeline, dapat mabal-an ta na kung naga-hana na bala mag negative ang Oton, San Miguel (first towns with reported ASF cases) kay as much as we can, gusto naton nga mag-repopulate kita nga ma-islan na ang supply nga nadula,” he added.
Defensor’s Executive Order No. 11 s. 2023, stated that restocking (repopulation of pigs) to full capacity shall be allowed when the red (infected) zone category of an area is lowered to pink (buffer) zone, and the farm must agree to “regular farm visitation for animal health monitoring, surveillance, and biosecurity evaluation.”
The governor admitted that it is difficult to contain the spread of ASF knowing how contagious the virus is and that the province’s security measures are not fully implemented.
“Indi siya gid man mahapos punggan nga magwa sa borders, as it is very contagious. Ang aton nga measures again, hindi naton siya ma (implement) 100 percent. The execution of biosecurity measures indi ta ma 100 percent, and although we have the checkpoint, it is not the place for total execution of biosecurity measures,” Defensor said.
“Although, of course, we try our best, that is why we don’t give up on checkpoints. Mabudlay siya nga sustiniron, but again, muna nga ang checkpoints naton gafocus kita sa live (hogs) kag pork (products),” he added.
To avoid the further spread of ASF, Defensor asked all towns if they could limit the movement of pork, pork products, and swine within their area, except if there is a need to address a possible lack of supply.
There is already an existing order prohibiting the movement of live pigs, pork, pork products, and swine genetic materials in the province, but it is only intended for towns and specific areas with confirmed ASF cases and those placed under the red (infected) zone ASF zoning classification.
Latest data from the Iloilo Provincial Veterinary Office (IPVO) also revealed that ASF has infected 18 towns – Oton, San Miguel, Leganes, New Lucena, Alimodian, Santa Barabara, Mina, Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas, Banate, Janiuay, Dingle, Barotac Viejo, Duenas, San Dionisio, Batad, Badiangan, and Zarraga.
Thirteen (13) towns were already placed under the red (infected) zone classification (Oton, San Miguel, Leganes, New Lucena, Alimodian, Santa Barbara, Mina, Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas, Banata, Janiuay, Dingle, Barotac Viejo) after two or more barangays from the said municipalities were affected by ASF.
The latest addition to the list are the towns of Barotac Viejo and Dingle after a report from IPVO indicated that swine specimen samples from Brgys. Poblacion and La Fortuna in Barotac Viejo, and from Brgys. Matangharon and Bongloy in Dingle tested positive for ASF using the convective PCR (cPCR) test for ASF.
Meanwhile, IPVO head Dr. Darel Tabuada said they have started distributing cash assistance to ASF-affected farmers in Iloilo, which was taken from the approved P40 million supplemental budget of the province.
Data from IPVO revealed that over P3.6 million in cash assistance were released to the first eight affected towns in the province – Oton (P1,745,000 to 195 farmers); San Miguel (P1,075,000 to 94 farmers); Leganes (P373,000 to 39 farmers); New Lucena (P180,000 to 14 farmers); Mina (P59,000 to eight farmers), and Alimodian (P194,000 to 17 farmers).
The IPVO said the number of depopulated hogs in the province as of Jan 26, 2023 increased to 2,393, while 261 farmers were affected by the depopulation.