‘AI’ eyed for Iloilo’s recovery from ASF

(Photo courtesy of DA-6)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The provincial government of Iloilo is pushing for the use of artificial insemination (AI) in hogs that have survived African swine fever (ASF) to recover its losses.

“We are starting a program with our provincial veterinary office that in our recovery, we will have an artificial insemination program nga ang atun nga stock mahalin sa mga surviving natun nga mga baboy because wala ni siya vaccine,” said Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. in a press conference on Wednesday.

He emphasized that the province can only combat ASF through “natural selection” since there is no treatment or vaccine available for ASF.

The only way to stop the outbreak of the disease is to isolate and cull affected or exposed swine herds. A total of 14,658 hogs in the province have been culled or have died of natural causes.

“That is the only way we can recover. Indi na di yah maghalin ang ASF kag wala bakuna,” he stressed.

Defensor said that they are getting the imprimatur of the Department of Agriculture that the province has the capability to breed hogs through AI.

“This is a program that we want to develop and validate para nga mapag-on ang atun nga stock diri sa probinsya,” he said.

The AI program will be dispersed to qualified farmers from areas that were not affected by ASF.

“Ang status natun, paano natun bawion. We have target barangays kay may ongoing kita nga monitoring kag validation,” Defensor added.

Data from the Provincial Veterinary Office-Iloilo showed that 28 backyard farmers in the province have passed the validation process for the ASF recovery program. This includes 19 farmers in New Lucena, eight in Barotac Viejo, and one in Sta. Barbara. 104 farmers from the town of Ajuy are currently undergoing validation.

Once the validation process is complete, Defensor said the province can then distribute “sentinel” piglets, as the DA is in the process of procuring the piglets.

Defensor said it is not practical for the province to purchase piglets, and it would be better to download funds to the towns.

“At the level of the province, it’s not advisable to [procure] piglets,” he said.

In the meantime, the province is firming up its plans and sources for hog products. As of September 27, the province’s hog inventory is only 33.75 percent sufficient.

The province’s hog inventory dropped to 72.27 percent after 27 of the 43 towns were affected by ASF since October 2022. The swine inventory stood at only 76,917 heads as of September 27, compared to 277,421 heads during the same period last year.

“Dyutay ang baboy sa Christmas natun although may supply [coming from nearby provinces],” Defensor said.

Since January this year, a total of 13,484 swine heads have been shipped into the province. The supply comes from the province of Aklan (75 heads), Antique (2,257 heads), Guimaras (12 heads), Negros Occidental (8,533 heads), Negros Oriental (1,530 heads), and Oriental Mindoro (1,077).

The province temporarily halted the export of hogs to other provinces since March.