Zubiri calls on DA, other agencies to act faster in containing ASF spread

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019   •   417

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday (Sept. 16) called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other concerned government agencies to move faster in containing the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in hog farms in the country.

Zubiri made the appeal after the DA confirmed that the ASF caused the deaths of swine in several areas in Bulacan and Rizal provinces.

READ: DA, BAI confirm ASF outbreak, call on public to help prevent spread of pig disease

“Ako po ay lubos na nababahala sa pagpasok ng African Swine Fever sa ating bansa bagamat hindi pa natutukoy kung anong strain ang tumama sa ating swine population,” the senator said in a statement.

(I am very much worried over the entry of the African Swine Fever in the country although we have yet to determine the kind of strain that hit our swine population.)

Zubiri also recalled issuing a warning to agency officials about the possible spread of the swine disease during a hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture and food on the ASF in March.

He also recommended during the said hearing the implementation of tighter monitoring and security measures in the country’s sea and airports to prevent the entry of ASF into the country.

“Noong Marso 20 ng taong ito ay pinamunuan natin ang Committee hearing ng Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food kung saan kung saan sinabi ko na — that the damage and economic losses caused by the recent water crisis in some parts of Metro Manila would be incomparable to the havoc and economic losses the ASF could bring into the whole country if ever this epidemic will reach our shores. So, we must not let our guard down, this is a very serious concern,” he said.

“Hiniling din natin na kung maaari ay mag-impose ng total ban sa importation ng pork mula sa ibang bansa. Subalit nakapasok pa rin sa bansa ang ASF. Gusto ko pong malaman ano po ang nangyari? Naging maluwag ba tayo sa pagbabantay?” he added.

“Ngayong andito na sa bansa ang ASF, nais natin na mas higpitan ng DA at iba pang ahensya ng pamahalaan at ng publiko ang pagbabantay at pag-contain nito upang di na kumalat pa sa ibang probinsya o lugar sa bansa. Kailangan nating paigtingin ang bio-security ng ating mga swine farms at wag na po sanang magdala ang ating mga kababayan ng mga pork products mula sa ASF affected countries.” Zubiri further said.

The Philippines’ swine industry is the sixth biggest in the world.

According to Zubiri, most of these hog raisers are backyard growers whose losses will be devastating if the government failed to contain the spread of ASF in the country.

“Let’s save our hog industry especially the backyard raisers,” he said.

DA Secretary William Dar earlier said that the pig virus has already been contained in Barangay Pritil and Guiguinto in Bulacan as well as in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.

He also stressed that the outbreak is not affecting the entire country, thus, he appeals to the public as well as the media not to ignite fear as unverified and unvalidated reports could create irreversible damage to the country’s hog industry which is also the source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

Kaso ng ASF sa bansa, bumaba mula nang ipatupad ang community quarantine — BAI

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Iniulat ng Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) ngayong Biyernes, Hulyo 3 na malaki ang ibinaba sa kaso ng African Swine Fever (ASF) sa bansa matapos ipatupad ang community quarantine bunsod ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sa isang panayam sa UNTV program na Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, sinabi ni BAI Officer-in-Charge Dr. Ronnie Domingo na umaabot na lamang sa 20 kaso ng ASF kada isang milyong baboy ang naitatala ng ahensiya.

Mas mababa ito kumpara sa 63 cases na napaulat bago ipatupad ang community quarantine sa maraming lugar sa bansa.

Ayon kay Domingo, nakatulong ang paghihigpit sa pagbiyahe ng mga produktong baboy para mapigilan ang pagkalat ng ASF.

Sa kabila nito, sinabi ng opisyal na patuloy pa rin ang kanilang pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga lokal na pamahalaan upang mabantayan ang mga babuyan at agad maaksyunan ang mga kaso ng ASF infection.

“Doon sa mga katabing baryo kung saan mayroong tinamaan, karaniwan po ‘pag may na-report po sa atin na bagong naapektuhan ng mga baboy, sa katabing bayan po ‘yon o kaya sa katabing barangay at ‘yan po y’ong ating binabantayan ngayon. Nag-organisa po tayo para mahigpitan po natin y’ong mga paggalaw ng mga baboy sa isang lugar,” ani Domingo.

Patuloy rin ang kanilang pakikipag-ugnayan maging sa pribadong sektor upang mapigilan ang pagkalat pa ng ASF lalo’t maaaring mabuhay ang virus kahit sa frozen meat sa loob ng tatlong taon, batay sa mga pag-aaral.

Pinaiigting rin aniya ng BAI, katuwang ang Bureau of Customs at Department of Agriculture, ang kampanya laban sa smuggling ng karne na maaaring maging daan upang makapasok sa bansa ang ASF at iba pang mga sakit sa hayop.

“’Pag dumating ho y’ong mga meat products na yan sa pier, nagkakaroon lang ho ng initial examination kasi wala ho tayong cold storage facility sa mga pier,” ani Domingo.

“Bubuksan ho ‘yan, iche-check namin together with the Department of Agriculture officials, tapos ipa-podlock ho natin ‘yan. Babantayan natin kasama ng mga taga-DA at NMIS papunta po doon sa cold storage nila at pagdating po doon, iinspect natin 100 percent habang binababa po ‘yan,” dagdag pa niya.

Ang masasabat na mga pagkaing kontaminado ng ASF ay agad aniyang dinadala sa isang pasilidad kung saan maaari itong sunugin gamit ang kemikal upang mapuksa ang virus.

Bukod sa ASF, sinabi rin ni Domingo na binabantayan nila sa ngayon ang G4 strain ng swine disease na kamakaila’y napaulat na nadiskubre sa ilang baboy sa China.

Payo naman ni Domingo sa publiko na mas mainam pa ring suriin at lutuing mabuti ang mga binibiling karne ng baboy at iba pang meat products upang masigurong ligtas itong kainin. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Senate to probe DA’s procurement of alleged overpriced fertilizer

Marje Pelayo   •   June 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has released a P5-B budget for the procurement of fertilizer to be distributed to local farmers under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“Minabuti po natin na mayroong fertilizer this time around kasi may pandemya tayo [We believe it’s best to have fertilizers at this time of pandemic],” noted DA Secretary William Dar.

“Gusto nating pataasin ang food sufficiency level sa bansa [We want to improve the country’s food sufficiency level] from now 86% to 93% to 94%,” he added.

But an agricultural group ‘Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura’ (SINAG) claimed that DA’s bidding price of P1,000 per bag is higher by P150 as compared to about P800 per bag that farmers regularly buy in local markets. 

“Kung ang floor price mo ilalagay mo sa mataas, anong tendency ng mga dealer? Magbi-bid ng mataas kasi yun ang floor price mataas [If you set a high floor price, dealers will bid higher as well],” argued SINAG President Rosendo So.

But the Agriculture Department argued that the budget of P1,000 per bag of fertilizers is actually lower than the surveyed price of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (P1,043 to P1,062/bag between March to May 2020) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (P1,140/bag in December 2019).

DA acknowledged that the price of fertilizer indeed dropped but it was already the bidding period and it also included other expenses like transportation. 

“We are not bound na baguhin kasi the DA BAC is merely relying on what is included in the terms of reference given by the end-users,” explained DA Undersecretary Waldo Carpio.

But SINAG argued that the actual price that farmers have been buying is better than those in surveys.

“Itong mga nakukuha nating presyo is resibo na ng mga farmers. Ano ang mas titingnan ng tao? Iyong survey o iyong actual na presyo [What we have are actual receipts from farmers. What do you think the public will believe? The surveys or the actual price]?” argued So.

The matter has reached the office of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chair Senator Cynthia Villar who vowed to launch a probe on this once the Senate session resumes in July. 

“Kasi ito kung ang bibilhin nila ay P5 billion peso-worth na ipamimigay sa farmers, that would be P5-million. So kung may overprice na P140 per bag, that’s P700M. Malaki din diba? [If they bought P5-billion-peso-worth of (fertilizers) to be distributed to farmers, that would be P5-million. If there’s an overpricing of P140 pesos per bag, that’s P700-M. That’s a huge amount],” noted Villar.

“Kaya titingnan natin kung tama iyong retail at ano ba ang wholesale (price) [We will check if the retail price is correct and what the wholesale price is] then we investigate],” concluded Villar. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA to use satellite imaging on farms to improve crop insurance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) seeks to launch a program that would use satellite technology to improve crop insurance in the country.

Based on a Memorandum of Agreement signed on Monday (June 8), the program would provide satellite images for several crop farms in Nueva Ecija, Iloilo, and North Cotabato.

The project, with the initial funding support of P5 million, targets to provide satellite imaging for the 100,000 hectares planted with rice and 40,000 hectares planted with various crops within six months.

According to DA Secretary Willam Dar, the program aims to provide farmers with direct and targeted assistance to improve their productivity.

“The traditional source of information which relies heavily on fieldwork will be insufficient in the country. As we modernize our agriculture sector, we must continuously explore for relevant technology to increase sufficiency and productivity,” Dar said.

The program will also improve the DA’s disaster response, Dar added.

The MOA signing was witnessed by the Agriculture Secretary and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) President Atty. Jovy Bernabe. –AAC

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