GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 05 February) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 will shift its campaign this year against the African Swine Fever (ASF) to the community and barangay levels, an official said.
Arlan Mangelen, DA-12 executive director, said they set to launch a series of “barangay to barangay” information and education campaigns to prevent the reemergence of the dreaded disease in some parts of the region.
He said the region is generally under the “green zone” at the moment or free from ASF based on the agency’s assessment.
DA-12 recorded outbreaks of the disease last year in Kidapawan City and in the municipalities of Arakan, Makilala, President Roxas and Magpet in North Cotabato, and in Glan, Sarangani but no new cases have been so far reported in these areas.
Confirmed cases of ASF were also found in several hogs purchased in Davao del Sur in January last year by a trader from Koronadal City but it was immediately contained.
“We need to go from barangay to barangay to educate our people so we can preserve our ASF-free status,” Mangelen said in an interview over Brigada News FM.
He said the campaign will complement with the continuing disease surveillance activities in the region’s border areas and the strict implementation of the ban on the entry of live hogs and pork products from contaminated areas.
Citing their assessment, the official said the previous outbreaks mainly affected backyard hog raisers in the barangay and community level.
He said the infections were traced to contaminated processed pork products that made their way into the food scraps that were fed to the animals.
Mangelen said the commercial farms or producers situated in the affected areas remained free from the disease but were constrained to penetrate the markets due to the “domino effect” of the ASF control measures.
This city and South Cotabato province are currently among the top producers of live hogs and pork in the country, and ship out at least 15,000 heads every two weeks to Metro Manila and Luzon.
The South Cotabato Swine Producers Association, an association of commercial swine farms based in the area, has a combined sow population of 55,000 and produces over 45,000 heads of hogs a month.
About 10 percent of the group’s production is consumed in Region 12 and it supplies the 90 percent surplus to the markets in Luzon and Visayas. (MindaNews)