The Department of Agriculture Bicol as of April 24, 2020 has already paid indemnification to 876 backyard raisers who surrendered their hogs for depopulation during the outbreak of the African Swine Fever in a number of municipalities and one city in Camarines Sur province. The DA has already paid in cash P23,230,000 for a total of 4,646 heads of swine depopulated from 55 barangays in the municipalities of Bombon, Calabanga, Magarao, Minalabac and the City of Naga. These were the first towns/city affected by the ASF. For each head of swine, the DA paid P5,000 but for a maximum of only 20 heads per owner.

Depopulation is still continuing in four more ASF affected barangays in the municipalities of Canaman, Camaligan, Gainza and Cabusao but partial depopulation has been conducted in these municipalities with Canaman having 746 heads of hogs depopulated owned by 141 backyard raisers; Camaligan with 566 heads owned by 89 raisers; Gainza with 54 owned by 12 raisers and Cabusao with 201 heads owned by 32 raisers.

Nelson Saya of San Antonio, Bombon was among the 2nd batch of hog raisers from this municipality. True to his name he was so happy that he was paid P100,000 cash by the  DA for the 20 pigs he surrendered for depopulation. ”Salamat sa DA ta dai kami binigo”, he remarked.

Another backyard hog raiser who recently received indemnification was Jonathan Gomez of Cararayan Naga City. He was paid P80,000 cash for the 16 hogs he surrendered for depopulation. “Maguinhawa na sa buhay asin ayahay na pagmate ngonian na nabayadan na ako. May capital na naman ako pang negosyo.”, Gomez stated.

Eileen Aure of Del Rosario Naga City related that she really felt bad upon knowing that she has to surrender her 4 pigs for culling. “Makulog sa boot, siyempre.  Pero mayo man kami nin option. Pero nauugma ako na nakabalik man giraray maski dikit.” she shared.

Clarita Ersario, 71 years old from Pacol, Naga City was overjoyed as she received the P85,000 cash payment for her 17 pigs consisting of 9 sows and 8 fatteners. “Makulog sa boot kan pigkua su mga orig ko ta pigparatiyagaan asin pigsakripisyuhan ko ang mga ito para atamanon. An pag ataman nin orig iyo man sana ang naitatabang ko ki agom ta nag-ooma man siya. Mayo man kaming nakasaray na kwarta sa bangko pero nakakaipon ako dahil sa pag-oorig. Kaya napahibi ngani ako. May nagsabi pa sako na burunoon ko na lang daa nin patago ta baka dai man sana ako mabayaran o haloy pa. Pero ako po nagtitiwala sa gobyerno. Kaya dakula ang pasasalamat ko sa gobyerno, sa DA ta nabyadan man tolos ako,” she related.

For his part, Edwin Moreno from barangay Antipolo, Minalabac narrated that at first he was hesitant and sad to surrender his 9 pigs. “Nakadamay man lang su mga orig ko ta nakaiba su lugar mi sa ground zero. Pero naisip ko na magsunod na lang para dai na magparalakop ang ASF. Salamat sa DA sa pagasikaso tolos na mabayadan kami. Natawan kami nin pag-asa lalu na ngonian na nasa tahaw kita nin krisis. May kapital na ako para pag ataman native chicken muna seguro o sadit na negosyo.”.

The Department of Agriculture is currently in the frontline to ensure food availability, accessibility and affordability amid the threat of COVID 19 Virus which necessitated the implementation of enhanced community quarantine which is now on its second extension. The DA under the leadership of secretary William Dar is aggressively implementing the approved measures by the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID 19 Including the implementation of the ALPAS kontra COVID 19 (Ahon Lahat, Pagkain Sapat).  But despite the many activities it is currently undertaking under the present situation, DA-Bicol together with the PDRRMC and LGUs concerned has not set aside its role in controlling, containing and managing the African Swine Fever (ASF) that has seriously affected the swine industry in 9 municipalities in Camarines Sur Province.             DA Bicol under the leadership of regional executive director Rodel P. Tornilla lost no time in requesting for the indemnification funds and facilitated immediate payment for the ASF affected farmers to help them recoup their losses and start an alternative livelihood while the swine industry in the locality has yet to recover. A rehabilitation plan has now been prepared to revitalize the hog industry in the affected municipalities. (EMILY B. BORDADO)