Since the Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed the first outbreak in July 2019, more than 53 provinces, from a total of 81, have experienced ASF outbreaks. There is currently vast information about the development of the outbreak throughout the months that makes it easier to recognize the most affected areas, the latest map on ASF zoning status (as of 5 March) published by the Bureau of Animal Industry was made available, providing guidance to the implementation of prevention and control plans.
The DA has acknowledged that the ASF outbreaks had reduced the country’s hog population by half to 6.6 million pigs from 13 million pre-ASF. It would now take at least five years to repopulate the national inventory.
They underlined that increased human mobility is a major driver in ASF spread and admit they can do little to restrict travellers and traders from transporting meat products. Meanwhile, online delivery services make it hard to track pork trade activities, which allows products from infected areas to reach non-infected markets.
Over the years, the ASF outbreaks in the Philippines have resulted in the loss of livelihoods for hog backyard raisers, the closure of large commercial pig farms, and the loss of revenues from allied industries.
Recent efforts against ASF in the country have coordinated a variety of projects with the purpose of improving the situation in different matters, showing an active and cooperative spirit throughout the wide territory, additionally, the INSPIRE (Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion) is focused on pig repopulation, encouraging raisers to go back to business, while pursuing efforts to control the spread of the virus. Some examples of how these initiatives have come alive are:
- Increasing surveillance and product control. The veterinary office and the National ASF Prevention and Control Programme are working hand-in-glove to increase surveillance, verify the movement of pigs and pork products and control pork products in the supermarkets, where veterinary inspectors have started pulling out banned pork products.
- Cash-for-work programme. Thanks to the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantage/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program of the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) farmers whose pigs were culled due to ASF infection will be undertaking cash for work and receive a minimum daily wage. The work scope includes cleaning and disinfection of pig pens or community service.
- Projects and training. Davao del Norte’s Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) is a recent recipient of projects aimed at boosting its pig production. The project consists of housing facilities, breeder animals, and equipment. The techno demo farm will serve as a venue for training, extension, and learning of farmers, students, and interested individuals.
- Festivals to help fight ASF. Some cities are holding festivals which serve as part of the recovery measure. The tourism office provided training on the preparation of various pork menus for the Pork Festival. During the festival, pig producers were encouraged to release their stocks and earn income by selling lechon rather than facing the threat of the ASF. Complementary agricultural activities. Small cooperatives are receiving pig production projects to add to the existing pig repopulation programmes in addition to their livelihood activity of vegetable production. This integrated farming approach utilises rejected vegetables as animal food, reducing production waste and cutting operation costs for swine raising.
With this background in mind, Spain, Europe’s largest pork producer, is ready to help augment the Filipino pork supply. Last year, Spain was the country’s top source of pork, exporting 222.08 million kilos or 31.3 per cent of the total pork shipments, based on data from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).