Agri chief launches P29.6-B hog repopulation, ‘Bantay sa ASF sa Barangay’ twin program

By: DA

QUEZON CITY, Feb. 13 — In partnership with local government units, private sector, and veterinary and hog raisers’ groups, the Department of Agriculture (DA) formally launched in Batangas City the national hog repopulation and “Bantay sa ASF sa Barangay” twin program, with a combined public and private investments of P29.6 billion, aimed at effectively controlling the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF) and reviving the badly-hit swine industry.

“We chose Batangas because this is where the ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay’ or ‘BABay ASF’ was born, alongside the hog repopulation program, formally called the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE),” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar during the launching of the programs on Feb. 11, 2021 in Batangas.

The BABay ASF has initial funding of P1.5 billion (B), while INSPIRE has P600 million (M), said undersecretary William Medrano, who oversees the DA national livestock program.

To encourage backyard and semi-commercial raisers in ASF-free areas and “green zones” to go back to the business of swine fattening and piglet production, the DA through the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) is offering zero-interest loans, payable in three to five years. The DA-ACPC has set aside an initial budget of P500 M for this financing program.

Further, Secretary Dar said the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) and Development Bank of the Philippines are allocating P15 B and P12 B, respectively, for lending to commercial raisers.

The DA through its Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) is also providing raisers insurance coverage for their hogs at P10,000 each when culled due to ASF.

Describing the BABay ASF, Secretary Dar said: “Ito na ang bago at matibay na plataporma sa pagsugpo ng ASF. With a united front, we believe we could succeed this time in effectively managing and controlling ASF.”

“I thus urge our partners — the LGUs, hog industry stakeholders, veterinary associations, universities and research institutions, farmers’ cooperatives and associations, (FCAs), and backyard and commercial hog raisers — to join us implement stringent, sustainable biosecurity measures from hereon,” the DA chief added.

For his part, undersecretary Medrano said INSPIRE aims to accelerate the repopulation and recovery of the hog industry to ensure availability, accessibility, and affordability of pork and pork products. The program has three components, namely: calibrated repopulation – swine livelihood enterprise; establishment of breeder multiplier farms; and intensive and modernized production.

“I am happy that we are here today with our partners from the veterinary practitioners, LGUs, FCAs, universities and research institutions, and everyone helping together because that’s the only way we can solve these problems in the country,” he said.

“Paiigtingin pa natin ang ating partnership. It is through our collective action and determination that we will able to surmount these major challenges. We in the ‘One DA’ family and our various instrumentalities will be there backing up the LGUs and other partners,” Secretary Dar said.

He added that the DA will continuously provide technical assistance in risk assessment, surveillance and monitoring of ASF at the barangay level, strict biosecurity implementation, and use of locally-developed molecular rapid test kit to support disease surveillance.

Further, he said the DA is providing P800 M for transportation assistance to hog growers and traders who will deliver and sell their hogs or pork products in Metro Manila public markets.

During the launch, Secretary Dar also shared that preparations are being done for the conduct of the National Food Security Summit, tentatively set on April 7-8, 2021.

“Nakikiusap po kami sa lahat. This is the time to bring ideas to the table. This is the time to cooperate. This is the time to understand the mix of interventions that we have put together. Kung mayroon pa kayong maidadagdagag na ideas, we are open to discussing all of these during the 2021 National Food Security Summit,” Secretary Dar concluded. (Gumamela Celes Bejarin, DA-AFID)