THE EFFORT to restore the hog population and curb the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been allocated a combined P2.1 billion, Agriculture Undersecretary William C. Medrano said.

As the government grapples with rising pork prices that is threatening to trigger another inflation crisis, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced the hog industry revival measures in Batangas on Feb. 11, with Mr. Medrano saying that repopulation will initially receive P600 million and ASF control measures P1.5 billion.

Mr. Medrano said at the program launch that the repopulation program also includes the establishment of breeder farms and the modernization of the hog growing process.

“The program aims to accelerate the repopulation and recovery of the hog industry to ensure availability, accessibility, and affordability of pork and pork products,” Mr. Medrano said.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said during the program launch on Feb. 11 that the ASF program needs a united effort from both the public and private sectors.

“I urge local government units, hog industry stakeholders, veterinary associations, universities and research institutions, farmers’ cooperatives and associations, and backyard and commercial hog raisers to join us in implementing stringent, sustainable biosecurity measures,” Mr. Dar said.

The DA has also set a budget of P800 million in transport subsidies for hog growers and traders to encourage the delivery of more hogs to Metro Manila public markets, thereby increasing supply and bringing down prices.

The DA also announced a P500-million lending program to encourage backyard and semi-commercial raisers in ASF-free areas to return to swine fattening and piglet production. The program offers zero-interest loans payable in three to five years.

Mr. Dar also said the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines have allocated P15 billion and P12 billion, respectively, for lending to commercial hog raisers.

He added that the DA will tap insurance cover to compensate farmers for hogs culled due to ASF, paying out P10,000 each.

“The DA will continuously provide technical assistance in risk assessment, surveillance and monitoring of ASF at the barangay level, strict biosecurity implementation, and use of locally-developed molecular rapid test kit to support disease surveillance,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar also announced that the national food security summit has been penciled in for April 7 and 8.

“This is the time to bring ideas to the table. This is the time to cooperate. This is the time to understand the mix of interventions that we have put together,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave