The Department of Agriculture (DA) has laid out its plans in assisting small-time pig farmers severely affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF). This is done so as to augment the pork industry and strengthen awareness of biosecurity protocols.

The intervention involves the establishment of swine multiplier farms through clustering or village-level approach composed of 20 hog farmers each. The DA through its livestock program will provide every member with five piglets each, 20 bags of animal feed, and biologics. Thus, each cluster with 20 members will have a total of 100 piglets to raise.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the clustering strategy will be implemented initially in areas with ASF-affected hog farms as part of the DA’s enhanced hog production stimulus package. The DA chief has designated assistant secretary for livestock, Dr. William Medrano, as the project lead and implementer.

“We have earmarked P400 million to jumpstart the economic and income-generating activities in the livestock sector, particularly in some parts of Central Luzon and CALABARZON, where ASF was prevalent last year,” Secretary Dar said. “We must always calibrate our moves and not to lose sight of our commitment to see an empowered livestock and poultry sector, teeming with prosperous farmers. Thus, we in government will continuously provide small holder farmers with opportunities to produce and earn more,” the DA chief added.

The clustering project is in line with the strategic interventions of INSPIRE or the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion to be implemented by the DA National Livestock Program (NLP). INSPIRE intends to speed up the recovery of the hog sector and ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of pork and pork products.

Strict observance of biosecurity measures and strong animal health support, and veterinary extension services are integrated into the program to ensure the protection of the country’s swine herd from diseases. “Rest assured the DA will continue to support the livestock and poultry industry, and empower smallholder farmers, including micro, small and medium-scale enterprises, throughout the food value chain,” said Secretary Dar.

He also repeated his appeal to local chief executives to help the DA in protecting their borders and apprehend unscrupulous traders from trading sick hogs and selling contaminated imported meat.