Davao hog raisers call for tighter biosecurity measures at international ports to keep ASF virus out

HOG farmers in the Davao Region called on the government to tighten biosecurity measures at air and sea ports to ensure no further entry of the virus that causes the African Swine Fever (ASF) and avoid another massive outbreak. “If you look at the history, we were ASF-free here in the Philippines, when the first case of ASF in Asia was in Vietnam and China coming all the way from Europe. But the problem is the Philippines is very lax on biosecurity on borders,” Eduard So, president of Hog Farmers Association of Davao Region, Inc., said during the 22nd Davao Agri Trade Expo Webinar Series on Biosecurity Measures and Farm Management System on Mar. 24. He said the government’s strategy of stopping backyard raisers from swill feeding, or giving food scraps and other waste materials to pigs, could not be easily implemented. “To be honest, it’s a long shot. We just cannot say that you stop swill feeding,” he said. “Right now we are jumping to the farm level… but we are still allowing imported meat and with the rising prices of these meat, it’s the smugglers who are taking advantage of this,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. Mr. So said on top of stricter measures at the ports of entry, the government must show that smugglers of meat, which could be the source of ASF, are punished. “Example, we still see a lot of imported meat coming from infected countries, they are here, on display. The (government) issued penalties on infected meat for local producers but I don’t see any penalties or smugglers that’s been arrested,” he said. The ASF outbreak in the country, which started in mid-2019, mainly affected the northern mainland Luzon, but infections have also been recorded in parts of Eastern Visayas and several regions in Mindanao in the south. Department of Agriculture data show more than three million pigs have died or were culled since the virus was first detected. — Maya M. Padillo

House approves creation of Metro Davao agency

THE House of Representatives on Thursday approved on final reading a bill that will create the Metropolitan Davao Development Authority (MDDA), which will coordinate growth plans and programs for an urban cluster in the region. Lawmakers approved on Thursday’s plenary session House Bill 8930 that will establish the MDDA, an agency similar to the capital region’s  Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. The proposed Metro Davao area covers Davao City; the cities of Panabo, Tagum and Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte; Digos City, Davao del Sur; Mati City, Davao Oriental; and the municipalities of Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur, Carmen in Davao del Norte, Maco in Davao de Oro, and Malita in Davao Occidental. The MDDA will be tasked to provide development planning, transport management, public safety, urban zoning, and other services in coordination with the local government units. — Gillian M. Cortez

Citicore-Agriterra-USAID partner for livelihood program in Negros Occidental

A SUBSIDIARY of Citicore Power, Inc. and Netherlands-based firm Agriterra inked a deal with the United States Agency for International Development for a two-year project that aims to expand livelihood opportunities for rural households in Negros Occidental. The project, called Generating Rural Opportunities by Working with Cooperatives (GROW-Coop), will directly benefit over 300 upland households in the province. Citicore, in a statement on Thursday, said its unit Citicore-Candlewick Bioenergy, Inc. will take on the role of local resource organization (LRO) in the project. “LROs are organizations that are trusted by other local organizations and are seen as ‘hubs’ for ideas and resources… They are capable of supporting other local organizations to better serve communities,” Citicore said. Last year, Agriterra said on its website that it is training the agri-based Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative to serve as an LRO in the GROW Coop project. — Angelica Y. Yang