DA-BAI assures no broilers affected by bird flu in Pampanga

Marje Pelayo   •   July 30, 2020   •   288

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reported a confirmed case of bird flu or a highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strain, specifically A(H5N6), at a poultry layer or egg-producing farm in San Luis, Pampanga.

Upon confirming the report, the department immediately sent a composite team of veterinarians and animal health officers to the area to apply emergency control measures to contain the spread of the bird disease. 

The team also conducted disease surveillance around the infected farm.

“The team humanely culled a total of 38,701 head of layers and disposed off of them properly, employing the protocols under the Avian Influenza Protection Program of the Philippine Government,” DA-BAI Director Ronnie Domingo reported.

All personnel involved in the disease control measures were strictly monitored by the health office of San Luis, said Domingo.

Domingo has assured that there were no reports or detection of A(H5N6) among broilers, the primary source of poultry meat, in the area.

DA urges LGUs, private sector anew to buy palay, corn directly from local farmers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday renewed its appeal to local government units (LGU) and the private sector to buy palay and corn directly from farmers to prop up prices as harvest season peaks.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said LGUs and the grains industry stakeholders will have to “step in” and purchase directly through negotiated contracts with the farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCA) since the National Food Authority’s (NFA) palay procurement is limited to buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies

“The LGU- and private sector-led palay and corn buying will complement efforts of the Department of Agriculture through the National Food Authority to buy as much as possible from rice farmers using its 2020 P10-billion procurement fund,” Dar said.

“This should be part of the ‘new normal,’ where LGUs are taking a more pro-active stance by directly buying farmers’ produce — be these rice, corn, vegetables, chicken, eggs, fish and other farm and fishery products — at reasonable prices, and then including them in their food packs for their constituents,” he added.

The Agriculture chief said the NFA has also been directed to “roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20 billion-worth of palay this year.”

Further, he said provincial governments can avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) of up to P2 billion at two percent interest to procure palay, and acquire farm machineries and postharvest facilities.

This harvest season, the DA said it wrote the governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces to once again buy palay from their farmers.

The DA chief likewise called on the private sector, particularly those in the grains industry, to engage in long-term contract-growing and marketing agreement with farmers’ groups to buy rice for their employees and clientele as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Dar also asked the NFA to make available its warehouses for use by farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) and LGUs.

“We will accelerate the modernization of the NFA’s drying and milling facilities so they could provide much-needed services for the benefit of our rice farmers,” he added.

New ASF outbreaks reported in 6 Luzon provinces, DA says

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – New outbreaks of the African Swine Fever (ASF) have been monitored in six provinces in Luzon, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Thursday.

During a Laging Handa briefing, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the incidents of ASF outbreaks were reported in the provinces of Albay, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon and Quirino.

The new outbreaks bring the total number of affected regions to nine, he added.

Dar assured that the culling operations for ASF-affected hogs have been implemented to ensure that no contaminated pork products will be sold in local markets.

“Mayroon po tayong ugnayan sa mga LGU sila na yung nakabantay doo sa mga areas na may declared ASF cases,may quarantine na yan hindi na makakalabas at kung ano yung kinakailangan na idepopulate,” he said.

“Lahat ng pupunta sa merkado, dapat dadaan sa slaughter houses at doon sa slaughter houses ay naka-bantay ang ating kawani ng National Meat Inspection Service at sila ang magbibigay ng certification na ito ay walang sakit at safe kainin ang karne,” he added.

The Agriculture chief also said that the government is providing hog raisers P5,000 indemnification per pig surrendered for culling.

Experts have said that the ASF virus is not harmful to humans. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

DA, NIA to conduct cloudseeding ops in Central Luzon to stem dipping Pantabangan Dam water

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) are planning to conduct cloudseeding operations in Central Luzon to address the declining water level in Pantabangan Dam.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he has given a go-signal for the department’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) to commence the operation to induce rains over parts of Central Luzon where the bulk of the rice areas are in critical reproductive stage.

“With this initiative, we can ensure a respectable rice harvest in Central Luzon, particularly in Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Tarlac,” Dar said.

Sonia Salguero, DA-BSWM director said a total of P6 million has been allocated for the operations and that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has given clearance to make use of Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija as its base.

Dar said the project is in cooperation with NIA and the irrigators’ associations, which is aimed to ensuring adequate water for rice farms in Central Luzon and to bring up Pantabangan dam’s “very low reservoir water level.”

Central Luzon is the country’s rice granary and main source of the staple for Metro Manila and other rice-deficit areas in Luzon.

“Central Luzon is a critical component in our objective to achieve food security, especially for residents in the National Capital Region,” the DA chief said.

Pantabangan Dam is one of the largest dams in Asia and supplies the irrigation requirements for agricultural lands in Central Luzon. Its power station generates 112 megawatts of hydroelectric power.

As of September 5, 2020, Pantabangan Dam’s RWL is at 182.17 meters or 30.97 meters below its normal high water level of 216 meters.

“This means the stored water at Pantabangan Dam is not enough to supply the irrigation requirements of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (UPRIIS) operated by NIA,” said Salguero.

More than 141,430 hectares are programmed to be served by UPRIIS this rainy season.

NIA expects that the possible arrival of La Niña in the coming months may help increase the water level of Pantabangan Dam.

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