GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 August) – South Cotabato province is bringing its enhanced campaign against the highly contagious African Swine Fever (ASF) to its 199 barangays (villages).
Dr. Flora Bigot, head of the Provincial Veterinary Office, said on Monday they were working on the deployment of trained barangay biosecurity officers to further strengthen their efforts to keep the province free from the devastating animal disease.
She said they have so far trained at least 130 biosecurity officers in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Agricultural Training Institute in Region 12.
The provincial government has allotted additional funds for the training of more biosecurity officers and their deployment in all barangays in the province, she said.
“This is to ensure the proper implementation of biosecurity measures (against ASF) in the barangay level,” she said during the regular flag-raising ceremony at the provincial capitol.
Bigot said the biosecurity officers will be tasked to monitor and report any possible threat regarding the ASF to the municipal and provincial governments.
They will later assist the rollout of the “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” program in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
The entire South Cotabato and this city are under the “dark green” zone or among the areas in the country that remain free from ASF.
In Region 12, the Agriculture department earlier confirmed cases of the disease in parts of North Cotabato and Sarangani, which had been contained.
Bigot said the province and the rest of the region remain under high alert against ASF due to the continuing outbreaks in parts of Davao region and Northern Mindanao.
She said they are continuously monitoring the possible entry of live hogs and pork products from these areas through the 24-hour quarantine checkpoints in the province’s border highways.
They have also expanded their campaigns against the online selling of unauthorized processed pork products and those possibly sourced from the ASF-hit localities, she said.
Bigot said the hog producers in the province have been assisting these campaigns by providing financial incentives to 26 quarantine enforcers in the area.
The official said the entry into the province of live hogs, pork and related processed products remain prohibited based on Executive Order No. 3 earlier issued by South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr.
She said backyard and commercial farms have been strictly complying with these measures and only source their breeder hogs from local producers.
South Cotabato and this city are among the top producers of live hogs and pork in the country, shipping out at least 15,000 heads every two weeks to Metro Manila and Luzon.
The South Cotabato Swine Producers Association, the biggest association of commercial swine farms in the area, has a combined sow population of 55,000 and produces at least 45,000 heads of hogs a month.
About 10 percent of the group’s production is consumed in Region 12. It supplies the 90 percent surplus to markets in Luzon and the Visayas.
From January to July, Bigot said the provincial government has generated some P6.3 million in revenues from local hog shipments. (MindaNews)