OPPORTUNITY IN CRISIS: Iloilo holds pork festival as recovery measure vs ASF

The “pork festival” in African Swine Fever-stricken Iloilo province is not just about eating pork but a holistic measure to prevent the spread of the disease and eventually rebound from the crisis. (DA photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

As efforts to curb the African Swine Fever (ASF) continue, the Iloilo provincial government has set up measures to spur the recovery of the swine industry.

Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. deemed the holding of a pork festival in the entire province as a program that will be beneficial in the prevention, containment, depopulation and recovery measures against ASF.

On Nov 24, 2022, Defensor issued Executive Order No. 545 Series of 2022, which orders the implementation of Festival Kontra ASF.

The program will implement activities towards strengthening the resilience of backyard farmers and boosting the swine industry.

Defensor clarified that the pork festival “is not a pork eating festival” but a program with a series of activities towards recovery from ASF.

“We strengthen the lockdown as much as we can. We strengthen our farms, especially the backyard. And as much as possible we dispose of and consume the swine or pork inside and practice the correct protocols. And then we give way to the recovery process,” he said.

Under EO No. 545, the pork festival will have four components.

First is the imposition of sustained and intensified border control within the red (infected) and pink (buffer zones) to prevent the spread of ASF.

Second, the province will conduct training and seminars on biosecurity measures and animal husbandry practices to strengthen the swine industry at the municipal and barangay level.

“That is the way forward. Let us strengthen the backyard farmers so we can fight ASF. That is the basic strategy,” Defensor said.

There will also be seminars with convergence partners on pork processing to create a value chain and generate employment and business.

“We want to take this opportunity to realize and motivate the industry to add value to pork so we can create a value chain in the pork industry… We want to motivate the industry to process pork so we can add products to our economy and even to our tourism industry,” Defensor said.

Third, the provincial government will implement pre-emptive depopulation measures within the red and pink zones to minimize or eliminate potential hosts.

Municipalities declared as red and pink zones are encouraged to hold a pork festival to stimulate the consumption of pork as an additional pre-emptive depopulation measure. It could be in a form of a lechon festival or cooking contest.

The municipalities of Oton, San Miguel, Leganes, and New Lucena have been declared as red zones.

Lastly, the province will implement intensified measures and protocols to facilitate recovery and repopulation.

The provincial government will also provide financial assistance to affected municipalities and swine farmers.

Defensor said that the cash aid will be given to farm owners, (individuals/family/company/cooperative) whose farms have been subjected to swine depopulation conducted by or under the supervision of the local ASF Task Force.

The governor also said that the amount of cash aid to be received by the farmers will be hinged on the “graduated number or swine heads, whether sow, fattener or young swine.”
Further, only one farm owner per farm should be recognized as a beneficiary.

Based on EO, those with one to five hog heads will receive P7,000; six to 10 hog heads to get P10,000; 11 to 15 hog heads will get P15,000; 16 to 20 hog heads will get P20,000; 21 to 25 hog heads to receive P25,000, and 26 hog heads and above will be given P30,000.