THE Philippine government is mulling over subsidizing the commercial rollout of African swine fever (ASF) vaccine in the future—assuming those under trial are proven effective, a high-ranking agriculture official said.
“Dapat ’yung vaccine na sinasabi nila, dapat tapusin muna yung protocols. Ayusin muna lahat bago natin gawan ng proposal for additional benefits kung pwedeng tumulong yung gobyerno. (The vaccine must finish first the protocols. They must fix it first before we make a proposal for additional benefits if the government can help),” the newly installed Agriculture Undersecretary for Livestock Deogracias Victor Savellano told the BusinessMirror on Wednesday on the sidelines of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc.’s general meeting.
Savellano also told reporters that the three major planks of the DA’s agenda for livestock are biosecurity measures, repopulation, and reducing the prices of feeds, even as stressed the critical need to ensure the first measure.
When asked about the current situation of the biosecurity measures, he said they are consolidating every comment and suggestion of stakeholders, departments, and bureaus so that there will be a more coherent and cohesive direction.
“Biosecurity ’yung kailangang tignan kasi ’yan ’yung magpoprotekta sa livestock industry natin at dapat mas mahigpit (Biosecurity must be looked into because it will protect our livestock industry and it must be strict),” Savellano added.
Savellano told the members of NatFed that the DA will find ways and craft programs to persuade agribusinessmen, agripreneurs and rural farmer families to engage in any kind of livestock farming where it will be their primary or secondary form of livelihood.
The DA’s directions, according to Savellano, are to produce more livestock products locally in large volumes; balance more productions with minimal importations as only necessary to keep consumer and market prices low; and ensure enticing profit for livestock farmers to create more livelihood and jobs for Filipinos nationwide.
“These are inputs we need to work on together with your federation of swine farmers of our country, on how can we successfully inspire more federation members to repopulate amidst the continuing threat of ASF—until and unless the vaccines under trial can be proven to be safe, sterile, and effective following all standards and universally-acceptable protocols,” he added.
Under their watch, Savellano admitted it may look ambitious, but he expressed confidence it is doable. Together with other livestock groups, he said they “will make things happen for the increasing local livestock production toward a robust and sustainable growth by moving in one direction.”
The DA has been undertaking vaccine trials in its bid to salvage the country’s hog industry which has been devastated by the dreaded pig disease since 2019, when the first outbreak started in Rodriguez, Rizal.
Despite the lingering ASF, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) database for livestock and poultry, the production of swine has increased for the first half of the year at 860,712 metric tons compared to January to June of last year’s 835,125 MT in volume production.