The Department of Agriculture Bicol is set to test if it is already safe for local hog raisers in previously ASF – infected municipalities to rear or breed pigs as it began distributing sentinel pigs to the first batch of 56 farmers in the municipalities of Canaman and Magarao in Camarines Sur over the week. Sentinel animals are placed in a given environment and then monitored to find out if an infectious disease or other harmful agent is present in the environment. The recipients signed an agreement that they will take care of the pig for a period of 42 days and will cooperate with the DA team who will conduct close monitoring and blood sample collection on the animals.

Each farmer received a 3-month old piglet, vitamins and biologics and feeds courtesy of Apollo Feeds to determine if the pigs could survive and progress to maturity without any trace of ASF virus based on the close monitoring and laboratory results on blood samples regularly collected from the pigs. If after the 42-day trial period no trace of ASF virus or no adverse effects had been detected, the RQRT will then recommend to the BAI for the declaration of and granting to the particular LGU an ASF – free status.

According to Dr. Edgar  A. Madrid, Regional Technical Director for  Regulations and Research and presiding officer of the Regional Quick Response Team (RQRT) for ASF and  Emerging Animal Diseases, the selection of the municipalities as  pilot areas for  deployment of sentinel pigs were based on the  negative  monitoring report or no incidence report of ASF recurrence or new incidence and the compliance of the LGUs with  all the requirements set by the RQRT and the Bureau of Animal Industry and  willingness and preparedness of the LGUs to cooperate.

It has been 10 months since the first ASF outbreak was declared in the Camarines Sur province. To date more than 17,000 heads of swine owned by over 2,400 farmers have been depopulated in 33 municipalities and cities in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Albay. The DA has paid over P52.28 million indemnification for the depopulated hogs.

Leonila Alma from barangay Mangayawan in Canaman surrendered 3 sows and 14 fatteners for depopulation when their barangay was declared within the ASF affected zone. She received indemnification for the 17 heads.  “Salamat giraray sa DA ta nakabali ulit ako sa  mga natawan kaining sentinel pig.  Liwat maipapadagos mi ang pag ataman nin orig.  Itong binayad sako kan DA na indemnification halos pinangbayad ko man sana sa utang ko sa feeds.  Pero okay na ito ta mayo na akong iisipon na utang.  Kung marhay an resulta kaining sentinel pig makabawi man giraray kami.” she said with optimism. “Pero seguro dapat matawan  kami nin ayuda bako lang sa pag-orig. Dapat may alternatibong  pagkukuanan nin hanapbuhay ta arog kaining may pandemya o may epidemya an orig  iguang  masasarigan na iba. “ she mused.

Mayor Nelson Legaspi of Canaman thanked DA for sentinel pigs their 40 farmers which he said is just one of the numerous assistance that their municipalities have already received from the agency along with palay seeds, fertilizers, cash assistance, vegetable seeds, ASF indemnification, and FMRs. 

Maski ngani kadakul na challenges kitang inatubang asin  inagihan kita nin mga kalamidad kawsa kung tano igua satong mga nawara o losses. Pero yaon  pirmi ang DA handa para kita tabangan bumangon  asin I replenish su mga nawara sato arog kan mga banhi asin ngonian ining mga orig para makapuon kamo giraray” , Mayor Legaspi  said.

In Magarao town 16 farmers received the sentinel pigs.  Dr. Josefina Bañadera, ASF Regional Focal Person and member of the RQRT urged the recipients of the sentinel pigs to take care of the pigs. “Kayo ang susi sa tagumpay ng trial na ito”. She also discussed some tips in caring for the pigs.

Jojit Nacario of Apollo Feeds which volunteered to provide for free the HOG feeds for six (6) weeks also discussed briefly some tips in proper and efficient feeding and care for the hogs.  Other feed companies like Pigrolac have also volunteered to provide free feeds to the next batch of recipients of sentinel pigs in other municipalities. Meanwhile  National Meat  Inspection Service, OIC regional Director Alex Templonuevo who is also a member of the RQRT and was present  during the  distribution of sentinel pig  said that their office has  gathered  substantial  evidences and is set to file cases  against violators of republic Act 9296 or the Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines. He also  announced that more LGUs have submitted their official  request for the establishment of slaughterhouse in their respective locality as the now see the importance of   this facility  in the ensuring safe and quality meat  and its potential of generating income for their municipality.  He cited the LGU of Canaman for positively responding to the clustering approach proposed by the NMIS and agreeing to be one of the 6 municipalities which shall avail of the slaughtering services of the Naga District Abattoir, the first of its kind in the country. (EMILY B. BORDADO/DA RAFIS 5)