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Department of Agriculture (DA) launched the P28.1-billion Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) Program and the P1.5-billion Bantay African Swine Fever (ASF) sa Baranggay (BABay ASF) aimed at strengthening its artillery against ASF virus, held at Dream Zone, Provincial Capitol, Batangas City on February 11, 2021.

“Ito (BABay ASF) na ang bagong plataporma natin sa pagsupo ng ASF… Magtulung-tulong po tayong lahat. Let us advocate food diversification to help us fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time for us to unite. The Department welcomes your suggestions and recommendations to help improve food security in the Philippines,” Secretary William D. Dar said in his speech.

The Secretary also noted that if the Nanogold test kits invented by College Luzon State University – College of Veterinary Science and Medicine is proven to be highly effective, it will be used for the continued and strengthened monitoring, surveillance, and prevention of ASF in the country.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary (USec.) for Livestock Dr. William C. Medrano said that the INSPIRE program aims to calibrate repopulation and ASF-affected areas, establish swine breeder multiplier farms, and intensify and modernize production in the ASF-free zones.

According to USec. Medrano, the program’s implementation strategies include observance and compliance to strict biosecurity protocols, enhanced animal health assistance, clustering and consolidation of farms, livelihood enterprise development, and technical and marketing assistance.

With that, the DA allocates P400 million for the Quick Response Fund; P125 million under Bayanihan to Recover as One Act II (Bayanihan II); P75 million under the Bureau of Agricultural Research-Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund; P500 million worth of loan under Agricultural Credit Policy Council; P15 billion worth of financial assistance through Landbank of the Philippines; and P12 billion worth of monetary aid through Development Bank of the Philippines.

Besides, USec. Medrano said that they are looking into implementing the whole P28.1 billion program in the next three years.

In the meantime, DA-Bureau of Animal Industry Director Mr. Reildrin G. Morales discussed implementing the repopulation strategy of BABay ASF Program.

Director Morales said that BABay ASF Program’s objective is to bring DA’s ASF control programs down to the barangay level. Aside from that, this program aims to protect the pockets of ASF-free areas by implementing biosecurity and monitoring and evaluation, as well as to assist in the repopulation of previously infected areas or identifying financial support facilities for alternative livelihood projects from the government or donor agencies for farmers whose lives were disrupted by ASF.

Director Morales noted that the repopulation strategy comes with the 4S: surveillance, structure modification (through biosecurity), sentinel program (identification of the presence and absence of the virus), and stakeholder education (to increase awareness).

DA CALABARZON, led by OIC-Regional Executive Director Vilma M. Dimaculangan, awards various livestock projects and interventions supporting DA’s swine repopulation and hog industry recovery worth P59,550,000 to provincial veterinary offices, farmers’ cooperatives and associations, and state colleges and universities in the region.

A total of P6 million worth of ASF Sentinel Program (400 swine heads, 1,600 bags of feeds, and various veterinary drugs and biologics for ASF) were awarded to each provincial veterinary offices in CALABARZON.

Aside from that, under Bayanihan II, the regional office awarded P5 million each to Infanta Credit and Development Cooperative and Quezon Agricultural Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Cattle Feedlot Fattening Project); Batangas State University (Goat Multiplier Breeder Farm Project); and Filipino Smallholder Farmers Free-Range Poultry Association and Local Government of Sta. Maria (Poultry Multiplier Breeder Farm for Free-Range Chicken).

Moreover, DA CALABARZON awarded 80 cattle heads worth P2.8 million to the 2nd and 3rd districts of Quezon. Subsequently, 40 cattle heads worth P1.4 million were awarded to Bukal Maugat East Castillo Farmers’ Cooperative.

Meanwhile, the National Livestock Program awards a P5-million Swine Multiplier Farms Project to Soro-Soro Ibaba Development Cooperative.

The DA-Bureau of Animal Research also awarded P5-million Swine Multiplier Farms to Batangas State University – Lobo Campus, Laguna State Polytechnic College, Cavite State University, South Luzon Polytechnic College, and the University of Rizal System.

Also, DA-BAI awarded one unit of real-time PCR machine, 50 kits of ASFV POCKIT iiPCR, five kits Agpath ID master mix for Qrt PRC, 10 QIAMPRNA extraction kits, and three cPCR devices worth P18,388,00 to DA IV-A Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

True to its “One DA” approach, the Department pulls and integrates all its available resources in close coordination with concerned institutions and stakeholders to help reboot the country’s hog industry. ∙ (MAP, DA-RAFIS)