‘ASF IS COMING TO TOWNS’: Swine fever continues to spread in Iloilo province

IPVO head Dr. Darel Tabuada confirmed in an interview that two hogs yielded positive results from one farm in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.

By John Noel E. Herrera

Cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) continue to spread in Iloilo province as another town is confirmed to be affected by the hog disease.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. confirmed during his regular press conference on Dec 9, 2022 new ASF cases in a farm in one barangay of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.

The latest cases raise the number of ASF-infected towns in the province to eight.

Iloilo Provincial Veterinary Office (IPVO) head Dr. Darel Tabuada said two hogs from one farm tested positive for ASF even as biosecurity measures were already placed in the boundaries of the area.

Tabuada added that the municipal agriculturist of Barotac Nueva earlier reported unexplained hog deaths in the area and requested the IPVO for blood collection for testing.

Defensor on Friday also issued Executive Order No. 460-E, placing the entire town of Mina under a red (infected) zone after two or more barangays were already affected by ASF.

The EO stated that swine specimen samples from Brgy. Badiangan, Mina tested positive using the convective PCR (cPCR) test for ASF on Dec 7, 2022.

Six other towns in the province were earlier placed under the “red zone” of the ASF zoning classification, including Oton with 31 affected barangays, San Miguel (six affected barangays), Leganes (six affected barangays), New Lucena (two affected barangays), Santa Barbara (six affected barangays), and Alimodian (two affected barangays) and Mina.

When asked about the initial losses of farmers and the agriculture sector in the province due to ASF, Defensor explained that they cannot accurately assess the figures as there are areas that they have yet to validate.

“We cannot because ang challenges naton there are raw reports nga may mga depopulation nga hindi kalab-ot sa aton, that is why we cannot accurately assess the amount. May mga iban nga hindi naton ma-validate and that is the problem, we cannot inspect and test because hindi kita pagpasudlon,” Defensor added.

Meanwhile, Tabuada admitted it is difficult to contain the virus as most backyard farmers in the province struggle with their biosecurity measures.

“Actually, mabudlay na naton i-contain ang ining virus, admitted na naton ina. Medyo bug-at ni sya atubangon, pero we will do our best, and importante gid number one tani is to strengthen our biosecurity measures,” he said

As part of the campaign to contain ASF, the Iloilo Provincial Government is also set to launch an ASF-consciousness campaign which will focus on the biosecurity measures of hog raisers, especially the backyard farmers.

Tabuada also said that they are already in the process of distributing cash assistance to some affected farmers in the province, particularly in Oton town, as more than 100 affected farmers from the said town are expected to receive their vouchers, amounting to around P1.1 million on Monday, Dec 12, 2022.

“Ang distribution of cash aid ari na, gina-ubra na namon subong ang vouchers, ari na ang validations, pirmahan na lang and by Monday makapagwa na kami sang vouchers for the municipality of Oton,” he said.

Defensor earlier said that the amount of cash aid to be received by the farmers would depend on the “graduated number of swine heads, whether sow, fattener or young swine”, while only one farm owner per farm should be recognized as beneficiary.

A cash aid amounting to P7,000 will be given to farmers who had one to five hog heads that were depopulated or eliminated; P10,000 for six to 10 heads; P15,000 for 11 to 15 heads; P20,000 for 16 to 20 heads; P25,000 for 21 to 25 heads; and P30,000 for 26 heads and above.

Data from IPVO also indicated that the province has 298 confirmed ASF cases out of 543 tested samples, including 206 in Oton, 49 in San Miguel, 13 in Leganes, 11 in Santa Barbara, eight in Mina, five in New Lucena, four in Alimodian, and two in Barotac Nuevo, as of Dec 9, 2022.

The number of depopulated hogs has also increased to 1,852, while there are already 193 farmers who are affected by the depopulation.