13 LGUs in Bicol now ASF-free

By Connie Calipay

The Department of Agriculture in Bicol (DA-5) reported recently that more local government units (LGUs) in the region with previously confirmed cases of African swine fever (ASF) are now free of the pestilence and have been removed from the quarantine list.


In an interview, Emily Bordado, DA-5 spokesperson, said 10 municipalities and three cities in four provinces of the region are now ASF-free and have been upgraded from “red” to “pink” zone.


“Red” zones are infected areas while “pink” zones serve as a buffer, where ASF is not present but adjacent to an infected zone.


“Areas included were Bulan and Santa Magdalena in Sorsogon; Canaman and Iriga City in Camarines Sur; Daraga, Malilipot, Malinao, Pio Duran, Polangui, Bacacay, Ligao City and Tabaco City in Albay; and Sta. Elena in Camarines Norte,” she said.


Bordado added that seven more municipalities are done with the sentinel protocol but need to submit the required documents to be declared ASF-free.


“The sentinel protocol prescribes that new pigs be stocked, reared in previously ASF-infected areas, and monitored for 40 days,” she noted.


Bordado said if the pigs survive and progress to maturity without any trace of ASF virus based on the result of laboratory tests on the blood samples, then it becomes one of the bases for the declaration of ASF-free status and also a requisite for repopulation.


A total of 1,129 head sentinel pigs have been distributed to 1,127 farmers.


To help the hog industry recover, the DA implements twin programs: Bantay ASF sa Barangay (BABay ASF Program) and the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) under the Bureau of Animal and Industry (BAI) and the National Livestock Program, respectively, aimed at bringing the hog industry back to its feet.


The BABay ASF Program extends technical assistance including disease monitoring, surveillance, and monitoring efforts, which include setting up biosecurity measures for commercial and backyard piggeries and the training and designation of Barangay Biosecurity Officers (BBOS).


The INSPIRE Program, on the other hand, aims to accelerate repopulation and recovery of the pig industry through calibrated repopulation and intensified production; establishment of breeder multiplier farms; intensified biosecurity and enhanced surveillance; and expansion and modernization of semi-commercial and commercial farms through credit support. (PNA)