TACURONG CITY (MindaNews / 9 Feb) – At least 20 barangays in the province of North Cotabato are eyed to become pilot areas for a massive hog production program intended to address the current shortage of pork meat production in the country, an official from the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said on Monday.
Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, MinDA chair, said that there are at least “20 secluded villages” which have not been affected by the African swine fever (ASF) identified by the agency and the provincial government of North Cotabato as pilot areas for MinDA’s “Islands of Hope Hogstel Program” initiative.
“The ‘Islands of Hope’ strategy will implement a communal hog-raising scheme which I designed previously where a common service hog raising facility called ‘hogstel’ will be used in breeding and raising hogs owned by farmers,” Piñol said in a statement posted on his Facebook page on Monday.
He said that with this strategy, which will identify biosecure communities, the agency will assist the North Cotabato government in availing the hog production loan fund from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
“The barangay government or a farmer’s association will be the beneficiary of the loan fund which had been committed by DBP President Emmanuel G. Herbosa during our meeting in Makati City last week,” Piñol said.
The MinDA chair also disclosed that the identification and validation of the 20 pilot villages for the hogstel program will start this week, noting that the selected areas will raise breeders to produce piglets for fattening in local farms.
“Actual farm production will start in 18 months during which time the provincial government will initiate steps to establish its own feed milling and production facility and abattoir,” Piñol said.
He said that the hogstel concept will “revolutionize the backyard piggery industry,” wherein households feed their hogs with whatever kitchen wastes they could gather. This practice, Piñol noted, has been identified to have caused the spread of ASF that affected the hog raising industry.
Under the hogstel concept, a biosecure facility will be made available to the farmers where they will be allocated pens to raise hogs supervised by animal health experts and veterinarians.
The biosecurity measures will include closing the “Islands of Hope” villages to the entry of processed pork products which had been suspected to causing the spread of ASF in remote areas in the country, Piñol said.
The hog raisers will have to pay fees for the use of the hogstel, which will then be deducted from the sale of their hogs.
Piñol said that village officials and the farming families who will become beneficiaries of the project will undergo orientation and training on biosecurity which will be supervised by a team from MinDA.
There are at least 4,000 breeders intended to be distributed to the 20 ASF-free pilot villages of the Islands of Hope Hogstel Program.
About 200 breeders in each facility will be raised by at least 100 families.
Piñol also said that the Q-Pigs Corporation in the province of South Cotabato has been tapped to supply the breeders needed for the first 20 pilot villages for the hogstel program.
The total budget allocation for the said project, however, has not yet been disclosed by the agency as the technical team of MinDA is still set to meet with Q-Pigs Corporation president Joaquin Lu on Thursday to determine the costing of the project.
“Each farmer will be given a space in the hogstel where he will raise either a breeder or a fattener which he could access by going through the proper sanitary and biosecurity protocols,” he said.
Once implemented in the 20 pilot villages, the beneficiary backyard hog raisers will raise the same breed and feed the hogs with locally processed feeds “or at least a specific brand and follow quarantine protocols set by animal health experts who will manage the facilities.”
“The ‘hogstel’ concept will totally erase that familiar sight of hogs with leash around the neck tied to a tree or kept in the decrepit ‘tangkal’,” Piñol said. (Warren Elijah E. Valdez / MindaNews)