DA seeks P6.6B in additional fund for ASF response
The Department of Agriculture (DA) needs an additional funding of P6.6 billion this year to “fully accelerate” the recovery of the livestock industry from the slump caused by African swine fever (ASF) outbreak, the agriculture chief said.
In a virtual briefing on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the amount would allow the agency to procure more ASF testing kits and disinfection trucks, as well as fast-track the distribution of indemnification and insurance to aggrieved livestock raisers.
The P6.6 billion will be in addition to the existing budget for the hog industry repopulation and recovery programs.
“If we don’t have enough resources, we can realign [some of the other budget allocations] as the country is under a state of calamity,” Dar said.
Earlier this week, President Duterte declared a year-long national state of calamity due to the viral hog disease, thereby authorizing government agencies and local government units to tap their respective emergency funds for ASF-related concerns.
On top of the DA’s request for an additional P6.6 billion, it has already set aside P500 million for its hog repopulation program while P27 billion was earmarked for lending to commercial raisers. About 70 percent of the country’s hog industry, however, are backyard raisers.
The DA also shelled out an initial P80 million for the development and mass production of Filipino-made test kits that could detect ASF.
Industry leaders have complained of the slow distribution of indemnification to hog raisers affected by depopulation measures.
According to Nicanor Briones, vice president of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. (ProPork), this has prompted some livestock raisers to stop reporting new cases of ASF in their respective farms as this would lead to losses from depopulation.
With the expected stream of fresh funds, Dar said they were aiming to fast-track the indemnification process to a month and provide insurance to more raisers.
The agency also aims to produce nearly half a million hog breeders and 10.5 million hog finishers in the next three years to replace over 330,000 hog breeders that were lost from the hog virus.
Repopulation efforts are expected to begin in 412 areas nationwide where there have been no new ASF cases for at least 90 days.
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