By Louise Maureen Simeon, October 14 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government is increasing the indemnity for raisers whose pigs are culled amid the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the country.

In a department bulletin, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said President Duterte approved his recommendation to increase the financial assistance during the last Cabinet meeting.

“The increase will be from P3,000 to P5,000 per head. This means previous recipients will receive an additional P2,000 per culled pig,” Dar said.

It was early this month when the Department of Agriculture (DA) secured P1 billion in funds to indemnify hog raisers alone. The budget can cover up to 200,000 pigs given the P5,000 per head payment.

The increase in the indemnity came after several lawmakers and industry groups called on the DA to increase its compensation as P3,000 is not enough to help hog raisers recover losses.

In fact, P5,000 is still short of the actual average market value of P8,000 to a high of P15,000 per pig.

The ASF is now confirmed in 21 areas in Luzon, particularly in Quezon City and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal and Pampanga.

So far, about 36,000 hogs have been lost due to ASF, which is 0.28 percent of the country’s total population of 12.8 million hogs.

Duterte and members of the Cabinet also approved other measures to contain and prevent the spread of ASF to adjoining areas in Luzon. These include the imposition of lockdown procedures in Bulacan and Pampanga, cordoning validated areas as ASF-infected zones, for easier movement control of pigs and pork products.

There will also be apprehension and filing of cases against hog raisers and traders caught selling or buying and transporting live hogs, slaughtering ASF-infected pigs and selling ASF-tainted pork products.

Dar had earlier appealed to traders not to buy ASF-affected hogs, and likewise backyard raisers not to sell ASF-sick pigs as such malpractices are punishable by law.

“We must step up our surveillance and monitoring of transport of live pigs as well as pork products,” Dar said.

ASF poses no threat to human health, although it is highly infectious among pigs and can easily spread from one farm to another if not properly managed. The disease has no known vaccine yet.

Aside from the newly approved measures, the DA has been advising the implementation of strict biosecurity measures and the 1-7-10 protocol in ASF-affected areas, in tandem with local government units, the military, police, swine industry groups and other government agencies as part of their combined efforts to effectively manage, control and contain the ASF.