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DA taps partners for rebuilding hog population

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has signed up partners to assist in rebuilding the hog population and implementing local-level surveillance of African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks.

The partners were identified in a statement as Univet Nutrition and Animal Healthcare Co. (UNAHCO) and the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners (PCSP).

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the two organizations will assist with a hog repopulation program and a “Bantay ASF sa Barangay” initiative to improve early detection of outbreaks.

“We will vigorously pursue these challenging tasks in close cooperation and partnership with local government units, who are at the forefront of establishing stringent biosecurity measures to effectively and successfully control ASF in Luzon, prevent it from spreading, and protect the ‘green zones’ in Visayas and Mindanao,” Mr. Dar said.

UNAHCO will also engage in contract-buying of corn from clustered farms and improve the DA’s hog and poultry database.

Mr. Dar said the DA will also fund the mass-production of an ASF test kit with the help of Central Luzon State University. The kits will be distributed to LGUs, UNAHCO, PCSP, and hog raisers.

In a virtual briefing Tuesday, Agriculture Undersecretary William C. Medrano said the test kits can determine within an hour the presence of ASF in samples of saliva or droppings.

Mr. Medrano said the test kit costs around P45 per sample.

“We just released P10 million for the propagation of these test kits,” Mr. Medrano said.

Speaking about pork prices, Mr. Medrano said the DA is considering increasing the suggested retail price (SRP) for pork products in Metro Manila.

The DA’s price monitoring report on Tuesday found that prices of pork shoulder or kasim, range from P320 to P380 per kilogram, while pork belly or liempo, retails for P350 to P420 per kilogram.

The DA’s SRPs for kasim and liempo are P260 and P290, respectively.

“We hope that our repopulation efforts will take effect by the second quarter of 2021 and can stabilize the prices of pork,” Mr. Medrano said.

Around 431,000 animals have been culled since the ASF outbreak started in 2019,  according to Mr. Medrano. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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