THE expected government action solving a critical “swine disease” problem that may have dire consequences to the country’s swine industry is forthcoming within the first 100 days of Dr. William (Manong Willy) Dar, as secretary of Agriculture.
I am sure that he already knows the name and nature of this disease that afflicted backyard swine stocks in two provinces (one in Central Luzon and the other in Southern Luzon) that were previously identified by some national news reports.
As secretary of Agriculture and a scientist, let us respect his duty to name the disease and disclose the details of this problem at the right time and proper venue.
He is mandated to do the necessary approach and strategy to address the problem for the sake of the economy, and for the swine industry and its stakeholders and the consumers.
The nation’s swine production is the largest among the livestock and poultry industries. The swine industry was estimated to be a P191 billion industry.
As of July 1, 2019, the total inventory of swine in the country was estimated at 12.70 million heads compared to last year’s 12.78 million heads. Most of the swine population (8.02 million heads) were in backyard farms. The rest of the stocks of 4.68 million heads came from commercial farms.
This tells us that the country’s swine industry is largely husbanded by smallholder farmers rather than commercial raisers. It is why Secretary Dar’s cautious and caring approach in handling the problems affecting the industry is commendable.
For the moment, stakeholders and consumers must not panic over a situation that will, in the end, turn out to be baseless, at worst irresponsible. We can help the industry in this manner.
Focusing on the livestock industry in the Cordillera, the inventory for swine indicated a total of 260, 128 head as of July, this year (2019.)
Similar with the national inventory, most of the swineherd is in the hands of backyard raisers at 256, 199 heads while those in the hands of commercial raisers was recorded at 3, 929 heads only.
The top backyard swine producers among the CAR Provinces are Kalinga with 74,637 heads; Benguet, 56, 958 heads; and Ifugao, 46,150 heads.
The inventory for the remaining three provinces of the region revealed the following: Mountain Province, 40, 755 heads; Apayao, 24, 789 heads; and Abra, 12,910 heads.
Most of the commercial raisers are found in Benguet with a total swine population recorded at 1, 380 heads followed by Ifugao with a total of 1,984. Apayao is third at 864 heads in the hands of commercial raisers, as of July, this year.
Swine production in the Cordillera is not only an additional and alternative income source to smallholder farmers.
Many of them grow swine to sell for the educational expenses of their children.
In some villages of the region, it is taboo not to grow swine or livestock in the backyard because pigs and their meat have their uses during feast days or for traditional rituals.
There is certainly a long way to ensure the productivity and profitability of swine raising at all times in the region.
While raisers still thoroughly cook the feeds of swine from various sources (feed sourced from restaurants and kitchens and plant sources), they need to secure the animals from diseases carried by people by constructing proper housing with foot baths, for instance.
Also, LGUs must tighten the protection measures for the local swine industry by establishing quarantine checkpoints in all public transport entry points to their territorial jurisdictions. At present, only Benguet Province is vigilant in protecting its livestock industries by establishing 7 quarantine checkpoints. Abra Province has one quarantine checkpoint, Apayao Province, 2; Ifugao Province, 2; Kalinga Province, 2; and Mountain Province has no quarantine checkpoint at all, established in four major entry points to the province.
Meanwhile, Dr. Leisley Deligen, a veterinarian from the DA-CAR said that the common diseases affecting swine during the rainy season are respiratory diseases.
Another disease of economic importance under tight surveillance is hog cholera.
In partnership with the LGUs, the DA-CAR has been administering vaccination and providing medicine to farmers. They do this knowing that the death of any livestock to smallholder farmers is a great loss, in terms of income, effort and time.
Dr. Deligen advised all farmers to coordinate and immediately report any suspicious pest and disease to their municipal, provincial, and regional veterinarians, whoever is most accessible to them, for immediate attention and response.