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Starting anew for ASF-affected farmers

When he heard in the news that African Swine Fever (ASF) has already attacked the province of Cagayan, and that some towns have been infected, Mario hurriedly sold his 20 pigs and almost 45 piglets from three sows because of the fear that they will be culled. If so, he will not have even just a single centavo in return.

Then before ASF finally infected his town, he was  able to sell five others at a lower price.

Nothing was left in his piggery. The amount he is expecting to have after a few months of raising the pigs were gone in the wind, and all he has in return are his expenses.

Loreta, whose livelihood is raising pigs, recorded gains for the previous years, that is why she was able to improve their house, buy appliances, avail wifi and cable connections, and have extra savings. But ASF's attack devastated her as she saved not even a single sow in order to start anew.

In Region 2, billions of pesos were recorded as loss on the part of farmers. This is one of the challenges in the agriculture sector during the period that put down the hog industry not only on the region but in the whole country.

President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 105 creating a national task force to oversee and implement the effective and coordinated policies and strategies to manage, contain, and control the spread of animal diseases particularly ASF. Nonetheless, still there was a big loss in the swine industry.

But, recently, the government started to give indemnification to affected farmers.

In Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA), 250 individuals received their share of P6.7 million – an amount good enough for the swine industry to start anew according to Quezon Mayor Dolores Binwag. This is apart from the amount provided earlier by the LGU from their own funds to help affected hog raisers.

Marcelito Manzano, a senior citizen in Quezon, whose 19 pigs were culled, said that the indemnification he received will be of help to start again.

While the DA is also preparing for the repopulation program, Vice Mayor Virgilio Savedra of Quezon said that the LGU here has created an ordinance on good animal husbandry practices to ensure animals that are raised for meatmilkeggs, or other products are physically safe, as well as safe to consume.

In July 8, DA Executive Director Narciso A. Edillo led the awarding of 1.48 million-peso indemnification to affected farmers in Cabagan, San Pablo, and Sta. Maria towns in Isabela.

On the other hand, DA Regional Technical Director for Operations Roberto C. Busania  expressed his gratitude to farmers and LGU officials and those who are part of the "Bantay ASF Program sa Barangay" (BABay ASF)  for the effort poured to solve and address ASF issues and concerns.

He said that recently, more than P13 million worth of monetary assistance arrived from the Quick Response Fund of the department, allocated for Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya.

Busania said that they are waiting for a separate P161 million from the President's Contingency Fund for the provinces of Isabela, Cagayan, Quirino, and Nueva Vizcaya so that ASF-affected farmers will receive their indemnification and will be able to start anew.

The department has already started the distribution of  “sentinel” pigs as a prelude to repopulation  in areas where there are no reported cases of ASF for at least 90 days. This is the Duterte’s administration’s swine repopulation program which aims to increase hog production, and, subsequently, stabilize the supply and prices of pork as stated by DA Sec. William Dar. (JKC/GVB-PIA Cagayan)

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Gene Baquiran

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Region 2

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