QUEZON CITY, March 24, 2021 – The Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program joins Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar’s call for a united effort to combat threats of triggering supply and inflation crises by launching hog industry revitalization measures, called ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay’ or BaBay ASF and the National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion or INSPIRE – key projects for intensified hog repopulation efforts.
The first African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak was reported on July 25, 2019, in a back-yard farm in Rizal province. However, the official laboratory results (blood and tissue) were confirmed ASF positive on August 16, 2019 by the Animal Disease Diagnostic Reference Laboratory (Bonquin, 2019).
A quarter after the outbreak, the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) swine inventory in 2020 recorded an estimated 12.8 million head, and later on, projected a significant decline of -24.1% or a population count at around 9.7 million head beginning 2021.
The alarming number and changes in market prices prompted the DA to launch a strong campaign and revitalizing measures, calling for thorough participation from both the public and private hog industry stakeholders.
SAAD Program’s measures for hog industry revitalization
In response to the DA’s initiative, the SAAD Program discussed how its project design can complement and reinforce the national hog repopulation strategy during its planning workshop held in Zambales in February.
Attended by its regional and provincial implementers, SAAD Program Director Myer Mula led the session and drew the course of the program’s 2021 and 2022 livelihood implementation, emphasizing – among its other key livelihood development initiatives – the hog repopulation as one of its priorities in municipalities where it is feasible and safe to conduct the said project.
In the program’s preparation, green zones were identified from the list of the 30 provinces where the SAAD Program operates, as published by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in February 2021.
The list aims to separate locations with contamination and exposure, filtering ASF protected and free area called the “green zones”, where re-establishment of hog backyard raising is safe and feasible. Protected areas or the Light Green Zones are regions or provinces without ASF cases, and are considered low-risk zones but touches the same ground as Yellow Zones (high-risk areas) in terms of land mass. Meanwhile, the Free Zone (Dark Green Zones) pertains to regions whose geographical limit remains free from ASF.
This step is fundamental to the repopulation initiative which reiterates biosecurity as the foundation of its operation. The strategy adheres to the BaBay ASF key program of the DA, where monitoring and mitigation of the said swine disease will be thoroughly coordinated with the LGU.
Dr. Mula engaging with each region’s planning team emphasized the SAAD projects to re-enable local hog backyard raiser-beneficiaries to engage in hog-raising considering their area is included in the “green zone” list . Tables 1 shows the identified “green zone” list under the covered provinces of the SAAD Program.
Table 1. List of the identified protected and free zones of SAAD covered provinces from Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).
In 2019, SAAD’s swine related projects were implemented in 6 regions including CAR (Kalinga, Mt. Province), MIMAROPA (Occidental Mindoro), Region 5 (Sorsogon, Masbate, Catanduanes), Region 8 (Southern Leyte), Region 9 (Zamboanga del Norte), and Region 12 (North Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat). The total contribution of the program in terms of head population is 5,173 with Region 12’s biggest contribution of about 54.6% or 2,825 head.
In 2020, SAAD Program refocused swine projects especially in the areas tagged as red zones (ASF infected areas).
For FY 2021, SAAD called for a fund realignment of projects from large ruminants to swine in the green zone areas, utilizing a partial data amount of Php 19.1 million in three regions.
Table 2. FY 2021 Current Refocused Swine Production, per green zone municipality
In accordance to the hog repopulation initiative, an estimated amount of more than Php 66 million is allotted for FY 2022 SAAD implementation which includes 411 livelihood projects, possibly benefitting 1542 farmer groups with 2,5403 individual members.
Table 3. Proposed budget for 2022 SAAD Swine Repopulation
Since biosecurity appears to be the only way to have an impactful and sustainable risk management measure for the ASF outbreak, the SAAD Program will continue to hold awareness campaigns and guide for strict and intricate measures to protect the beneficiaries’ backyard hog-raising livelihood.
It is essential since the SAAD beneficiaries are among the vulnerable small-scale farmers where livelihood depends mainly on farming; addressing security of livelihood is the program’s prime concern and the further spread of the said disease.
Strengthened capacity building and technical support will be available and offered in the provincial and municipal agricultural offices ready to serve the local stakeholders.
The SAAD Program, nearing its concluding year maximizes its efforts and resources to continually complement the DA’s efforts to achieve food security in the country.
True to its ultimate mission of providing sustainable livelihood through capacity building, the program, despite the augmented challenges of the ongoing pandemic and ASF outbreak, continues to adapt to the measures available in addressing the most pressing issues in the agriculture sector, putting in the forefront the welfare of the marginalized rural farmers in the country.
In February 2021, House Resolution No. 1421 calling for the House Leadership to extend SAAD Program’s implementation for another 6 years (period 2023-2028) has been approved by the Philippine House Committee on Rural Development (PHCRD) Technical Working Group (TWG) and rightfully endorsed to the mother committee.###
Jessamae Gabon, SAAD NPMO Information Officer
Myer G. Mula, SAAD Program Director
Bonquin, C. (2019, September 14). A timeline of African Swine Fever. CNN Philippines. Retrieved from https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2019/9/14/african-swine-fever-timeline.html
SAAD NPMO Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Unit
PSA. (2020). Swine Situation Report: January-December 2019. Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved from https://psa.gov.ph/sites/default/files/Swine%20Situation%20Report_signed.pdf