Depopulation in Panganiban, Catanduanes

   Recently, Reildrin Morales, the director of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) sounded the alarm . Decision/policy-makers in the DA and stakeholders in the hog/swine industry ought to take note with emergency and urgency.   Our country is facing its third wave of African swine fever(ASF) outbreak with no cure in sight for the highly contagious swine disease.

                However, Morales said,  global efforts to develop a vaccine had yet to yield a positive result.  

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) corroborated this warning in that at least 30% of supply lost after this swine disease outbreaks recorded in 37 provinces since 2019.   

                Hence, it would therefore be safe to assume that our province, with nine (9) municipalities already with positive cases, is caught and included in the third wave outbreak. As of writing only the northern municipalities of Bagamanoc (east) and Pandan (west)are relatively free or spared from this swine disease outbreak.

                 In the not-so-distant period of time, God forbid, these two municipalities may succumbed to this outbreak due to unscrupulous hog raisers, meat processors, vendors and cohorts who will transport ASF-infected pigs or meat by any means to go on with their relatively lucrative businesses.

                 The consoling note, as of writing, is there’s no ASF outbreak in our province which, as of now,  is battling with covid-19 pandemic and the whammies we got from typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses.                        

                 The best option was an “elevated response” to contain the virulent disease that battered the meat industry since it was first detected in our country in 2019, the NMIS director said.  According to him, “we need a deregulated response that will bring the fight to the local government units  and barangays.“

                 This means, the national government through the DA-BAI, is turning to local governments to contain the spread of this swine disease. This response Cinco reported, brings in village officials to increase surveillance, particularly monitoring the movement of meat traders, and public awareness against swill feeding, which has been blamed for the spread of the swine disease. 

                  Another development vis-à-vis this outbreak is the recent partnership forged between the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) for a science based protocol to contain the spread of the disease.

                  BAI’s information is alarming. The ASF infects pigs, warthogs, European wild boars and American wild pigs, with deaths occurring in two to ten days and a mortality rate going as high as 100 percent. In a dialogue with UPLB last January 9, this year, Samuel Castro, the ASF focal person of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said the country had lost 30 percent of its hog population, with outbreak traced to 37 provinces. Is Catanduanes included in this 37 provinces? Probably, yes.

                  The DA said only a few areas in the Visayas, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduques, Romblon, Palawan), and parts of Mindanao had remained ASF-free, although the DA office in Eastern Visayas reported an outbreak in backyard farms in Abuyog, Leyte province, on January 16.  

                 To this end, DA Secretary William Dar have encouraged hog raisers in all affected areas to avail of free insurance for their hos/swine to cushion the effects of this outbreak.  Hog raisers in Catanduanes are therefore advised to contact or visit the office of the Bureau of Animal Industry or LGU Municipal Agricultural Officer regarding this matter.

                 Dean Jezie Acorda of the UPLB, College of Veterinary Medicine and head of the technical working group against the ASF, avian influenza and other diseases, said they were preparing a comprehensive program protocol that would include developing “on-site” diagnostics, or test kits for sick pigs. Right now, it takes several days to determine the results using current test kits for the ASF, he said.

                  The UPLB working group is also keen on drawing up protocols on repopulating swine disease affected farms or to determine a safe period before bringing in new breeder stocks. That’s it KaPeryodiko. Hopefully asap, or in due time through this protocols being hatched up in UPLB,  repopulation would be made after depopulation measures have been implemented on affected areas nationwide.