GREEN MINDED: Thoughts on Philippine Agriculture Today

The past week was devastating as African Swine Fever (ASF) claimed the lives of pigs and livelihood of Davaoeño hog-raisers noting at least 3,000 hogs were culled to prevent further spread. Farmers along Calinan district and nearby communities were worried as backyard hog-raising is one of their sources of income.

ASF is a disease caused by the ASF virus that causes the death of infected swine up to 100% fatality. Infected hogs show symptoms of reddening of the skin and lesions, loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss and high fever. According to the National Task Force on ASF, the transmission of the virus was caused by the following: contaminated feed; fomites (premises, vehicles, implements, and clothes); and biological vectors (soft ticks).

According to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), the first reported case was observed in Africaˈs Sub-Saharan region, while the recorded outbreak was noted in Portugal in 1957. What is apparent with this virus is that its spread was caused by importation.

As early as October last year, I already warned that quarantine measures to prevent the entry of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Davao City are ham-fisted and ill-advised. Specifically, the quarantine foot-baths placed occasionally at the Francisco Bangoy (Davao) International Airport and much worse at the checkpoints of TF Davao were telling on the lack of knowledge and incompetence of basic quarantine protocols. While the entry of Chinese processed meat products continues to be unrestricted.

The spread of ASF in the country is a result of the export-oriented and import-dependent agricultural economy brought by imperialist globalization.

ASF affected farmers in Davao city also expressed that compensation was not enough, noting that below 50 kilos pig for culling only received P1,500 way below on the capital of a weanling pig that price ranges from P2,000-P2,500. While those pigs who were already dead, are not compensated.

There are also reports that need confirmation, that large pig farms are holding their workers for quarantine. There is a great need to ensure their welfare.

What is to be done?

A – Avoid further spread by strengthening the ban and quarantine measures from affected and unaffected areas.

S – Strengthen the swine industry by scrapping of neo-liberal policies and through nationalization of the livestock industry.

F – Fair compensation especially to small hog-raisers. Ensure workers protection among large hog-farmers. Provide a comprehensive livelihood program for recovery.

The incompetence of this administration reeks in almost every front of our agriculture. Now is the high time for Davaoeños to re-think and act against incompetence and to stand for a pro-farmer Philippine agriculture. (davaotoday.com)

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