TABACO CITY—The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol has distributed “sentinel” piglets in areas where there are no reported cases of the African Swine Fever (ASF) for at least 90 days in the towns of Tabaco, Malinao, Bacacay and Malilipot benefitting 117 small hog raisers who have been affected by the ASF outbreak last year.

According to DA-Bicol Livestock and Poultry Program Regional Focal Person Dr. Marissa Guillermo, the distribution of these piglets is geared towards swine repopulation. Once an area has been declared ASF–free, it can now proceed to swine repopulation thus, increase hog production, provide income to animal raisers and stabilize the prices of pork.

Guillermo added that sentinel protocol will determine if a virus or disease is still present in the area. The sentinel pigs which will be closely monitored for 40 days will serve as test animals to determine if the ASF is no longer present in the area which shall be one of the basis for the declaration of said area as ASF free.

Each raiser will receive a sentinel piglet weighing 15-20 kg each and a starter feed for free. Each municipality will also receive disinfection paraphernalia. The sentinel piglets were sourced from ASF-free farms and subjected to tests.

Aside from the piglets and starter feeds, ASF-affected farmers already received their indemnification assistance of Php5,000.00 for every culled swine at a maximum of 20 swine per farmer.

DA Bicol L&P Program staff Marianito Tesorero added that LGUs will provide technical assistance and monitor the sentinel pig. He added that in to have a successful sentinelling program, entails strict implementation of biosecurity measures in the farm.

According to Dr. Manny G. Victorino, there were no outbreaks recorded since March this year because of the support and cooperation of private and government agencies, LGUs and the stakeholders.

The first reported case in the province of Albay was in September 22, 2020 in Pioduran which affected 27 barangays in nine municipalities and cities. A total of 1,219 hogs were depopulated.

Other municipalities in the province which already received same intervention were Pioduran, Polangui, Ligao City, Daraga, and Oas. A total of 170 sentinel piglets were distributed in the whole Albay province. (jaysonmgonzales)