CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, September 13 – Northern Mindanao (NorMin) is still African Swine Fever (ASF)-free, measures are in place and carried out to impede the entry of such dreaded disease from the region, the agriculture department reported.

“Region 10 is still ASF-free, meaning it remains part of the green [protected] zone, where transport [selling or trade] of swine and pork products to any parts of the country is allowed,” Carlene C. Collado, DA-Regional Field Office 10 (DA-RFO 10) executive bared, in an episode of the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS)-X podcast with Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary, Jose Ruperto Martin M. Andanar.

With nearby regions, such as 11 and 12, now being ASF-stricken areas, the official noted, it is vital for NorMin to beef up its ASF preventive and control measures being the third largest swine producers in the Philippines, accounting an estimated total hog production of 52.23 thousand metric tons (liveweight) for first quarter, this year, and further save the region from incurring economic losses.

Even more so, that Arakan Valley in Cotabato, shares a border with that of Kitaotao, Bukidnon province, he added.

“We are particularly protecting Bukidnon, being the host of our great grandparent and grandparent stocks,” Collado explained.

Concerted initiatives are also being done in close coordination with the private sector such as NORMINHOG and OroVets.

Of whom, the director added, have been helping on the department’s information and education campaign efforts.

Among key messages reiterated in the info drive include, to avoid swill feeding to raised hogs, as these may be contaminated, to refrain from bringing in pork meat and its by-products from ASF-affected areas, to report unusual swine mortalities, and to patronize farmers’ local meat and its by-products.

“Recently, a legal training was also conducted for the provincial and city veterinarians, including quarantine station officers for apprehension, confiscation and filing of complaints for violators on [ASF] executive orders issued by the different local governments,” the agency head related.

Monitoring animal movement of all livestock coming from outside NorMin is also ongoing, he stated.

“We are also geotagging commercial and backyard swine farms to establish proper zoning [and movement] and for immediate response, should any ASF incidents be discovered,” Collado detailed.

Notwithstanding, ASF-triggered challenges to the swine industry, the agri executive, however, shared DA-RFO 10’s strides for the first semester amid the ongoing pandemic.

He reported that the agency extended about P184.9 million worth of financial aid to 28,674 farmers under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA), Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers (FSRF) and Survival and Recovery Aid.

Through the agency’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita On-Wheels and Express, a total of 65,591 households have benefited while 66 farmer-suppliers were assisted, generating sales of almost P15 million, the agri-executive added.

In support to end local communist armed conflict, Collado further told its interventions, comprising the provision of farm machineries and equipment, dispersal of animals and other agri-inputs, to reinforce the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ civil military operations.

“These [agri-interventions] are not only for the agri-development in their respective camps, but also in bringing services to those conflict affected barangays that are hard-to-reach by our agricultural extension services,” the director remarked.

Equally important as addressing the prevailing health crisis, DA-RFO 10 will continue to serve as food security frontliners, as it eyes to continue drumming up the level of food production across all commodities, including the alternative staple food crop, adlay, as it now gains ground in the region, Collado concluded. # (JLO)