THE fatal African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to spread in towns in Bicol and Eastern Visayas, the government’s latest zoning map revealed.
The latest update on the National Zoning and Movement Plan for ASF showed the new areas infected with the dreaded hog virus, which is not harmful to humans, as reported to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) from February 15 to 19.
BusinessMirror analysis showed that new ASF outbreaks were confirmed by the BAI in five towns in Bicol region and two towns in Eastern Visayas region.
In the Bicol region, new infections were recorded in two towns of Albay (Bacacay and Tabaco City); San Lorenzo Ruiz, Camarines Norte; Tigaon, Camarines Sur; and Milagros, Masbate. New ASF outbreaks were confirmed in the towns of Burauen and Pastrana in Leyte.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday said one possible reason behind the spread of the ASF virus in the two regions are hog traders and raisers who were not disinfected that entered and exited the areas that have been.
To date, the BAI has confirmed the presence of ASF in over 2,300 barangays in over 450 municipalities in at least 38 provinces across 12 regions of the country.
The government has culled over 400,000 pigs nationwide to curb the spread of ASF. Industry players noted that the hog sector has lost at least 5 million pigs to date, resulting in supply shortfalls and spikes in retail pork prices.
The DA said they are still awaiting President Duterte’s signature on their recommendation to hike the country’s minimum access volume (MAV) for pork imports to 400,000 metric tons (MT).
The increment of the pork MAV, currently at 54,000 MT, is one of the measures eyed by the government to boost domestic supply and pull down pork retail prices below P300 per kilogram.
The DA is currently seeking Cabinet approval for its P740-million proposal to subsidize half of the insurance premium of commercial hog raisers to encourage them to partake in the government’s pig repopulation tack.
The proposal was disclosed by Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar in a Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform meeting last Monday.
Dar said they plan to shoulder “the hog insurance for 5 million hogs to be repopulated, that is about P740 million.”
This, Dar added, “will now be the indemnification for the backyard and commercial raisers. We will only subsidize the commercial raisers, while backyard raisers do not have to pay a premium as long as they are registered in the RSBSA [Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture]. This will encourage commercial hog raisers to repopulate,” Dar added.
Based on Dar’s presentation, it would cost a total of P1.48 billion to insure 5 million pigs, comprising 1 million breeders and 4 million pigs.
Dar said the government will shoulder half of the total cost while the remainder would be paid by the commercial raisers.
Insurance coverage for a fattener is up to P10,000 with a 2.25 percent premium, while breeders are insured for P14,500 at a 4 percent premium payment, according to Dar’s presentation.
On top of this, Dar said they proposed refinements on livestock insurance to include pigs killed by African swine fever (ASF) and those that were culled on government orders.
Dar proposed that the terms for livestock insurance include a “waiver provision disallowing indemnity payment if hogs are culled or killed as ordered by the government, either by an administrative order or just a slaughter order.”
Dar added that they also proposed to increase the indemnification to 100 percent from the current 60 percent if the pigs are affected by the ASF pandemic.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes