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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Livestock industry braces for prolonged dry spell

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Battered by erratic weather conditions, state veterinary experts pressed the alarm bell Monday in a bid to avoid shortage of livestock supplies across Central Mindanao, which is also the source of meat products to other parts of the nation.

Doctor John B. Pascual, regional Department of Agriculture livestock chief, said they have sought a P20 million funding for the livestock industry that will tone down a foreseen debilitating El Nino phenomenon onslaught in the area.

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"We have already received complaints of sporadic animal diseases in several towns of the region as a result of the unpredictable weather condition. Sometimes it's very hot and then suddenly it will rain. However, we have not monitored any disease outbreak yet," he said.

Pascual stressed that a prolonged dry spell condition would have adverse effect to animals as it would make them highly susceptible to deadly diseases and thus threatening meat supply.

But the central office of the agriculture department has yet to release the funds needed to mitigate the impact of the drought, which is expected to be fully felt in summer starting March, to the region's livestock industry.

Part of the livestock mitigating measure would be a vaccination program to prevent animal diseases from developing, Pascual said.

With an El Nino condition, he noted that cows and carabaos are prone to Hemorrhagic septicemia, swine to cholera and chicken to avian pests, all deadly diseases.

Through vaccination, we can avoid animal meat shortage for consumption in the region and some parts of the country when the dry spell fully rear its ugly head, Pascual said.

Production losses for the region once the El Nino impacts the livestock industry was pegged to at least 46,000 heads, the mitigation plan for the livestock industry showed.

So far, he said that meat supply remains stable in the area, which is also a major source of pork meat and beef for markets in Manila, Cavite, Cebu and Tacloban, among others.

Latest data from the Agriculture office (January 1 to 26) showed the livestock industry of the region has supplied an estimated 708,000 kilograms of pork and beef to other markets.

Central Mindanao shipped 361,069 kg of pork to Cebu City; about 145,000 kg of pork and beef to Cavite; about 65,000 kg of pork and beef to Manila; and 77,000 kg of pork and beef to Tacloban City, the regional agriculture office reported.

Other markets being served by the livestock industry in the region include the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Iloilo.

For his part, Chief Superintendent Josefino G. Cataluña, Jr., chair of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council, urged other regional government agencies to also be proactive in cushioning the impact of the El Nino phenomenon.

He said that precautionary measures must be implemented to curb the effect of the dry spell.
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