FOR ASF RESPONSE: State of nat’l calamity gains support

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    The Senate yesterday afternoon adopted a resolution urging the Department of Agriculture (DA) to recommend to the President to declare a state of national calamity due to the severe impact of the African swine fever (ASF) on the local hog industry.

    Senate Resolution 676, introduced by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, would allow the DA, local government units and government agencies concerned “ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds, including Quick Response Funds, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to address the ASF outbreak” once the President declares a state of national calamity due to the ASF.

    ASF, a highly contagious disease affecting pigs and wild boar, was first reported in the Philippines on August 2019, spreading to 12 regions, 40 provinces, 458 municipalities and 2,361 barangays nationwide.

    In a bid to prevent the further spread of the disease, the DA has so far culled 442,014 hogs. Private industry hog raisers estimate that around 4.7 million hogs were afflicted with ASF, which is equivalent to cover a third of the country’s pig stocks.

    The ASF outbreak has cost the hog industry some P56 billion in losses.

    According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the total swine inventory as of January 2021 was estimated at 9.72 million heads, a 24.1 percent decline from the previous year’s level of 12.8 million heads. Population in backyard and commercial farms contracted by 13.3 percent and 41.8 percent respectively.

    The ASF outbreak has significantly affected the country’s pork supply which sent retail prices of pork to as high as P450 per kilogram in January 2021. To address this, the President issued Executive Order No. 124 series of 2021 imposing a price ceiling on selected pork and chicken products in the National Capital Region for 60 days.

    The DA launched the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) which will be implemented from 2021 to 2023 with an estimated P61.33 billion required budget, and the Bantay ASF sa Barangay or BABAy ASF Program to combat the impact of the massive damage to the local hog industry.

    The DA also instituted biosecurity, disease control measures, and calibrated repopulation and enhancement of the local hog industry to revive the sector.

    Pangilinan said funds to revive the swine industry can be sourced from the national Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.