Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on Monday commended the efforts of stakeholders in the province for sustaining its African swine fever (ASF)-free status amid the outbreak of the hog disease in many parts of the country.
“The task was no easy feat, but with your committed efforts, we were able to achieve our collective goal to protect our people and the multi-billion swine industry of the province,” Lacson said in rites, marking the second year of the creation of the Provincial ASF Task Force held at the Capitol Social Hall here.
Part of the activity was the awarding and acknowledgment of the local government units, individuals, agencies, and other stakeholders who helped make Negros Occidental one of the few provinces in the country that remains ASF-free.
“When the ASF was first reported in the country in 2019, we spared no effort to protect our province… For if no quick action was done, eradicating ASF once it has gained a foothold in our province would prove to be very difficult and costly,” Lacson said.
He added that actions that contributed substantially to the province’s success included prompt and timely enactment of the ASF Prevention Ordinance and the creation of the ASF Task Force to take the lead in the prevention and control measures.
Until now, Negros Occidental prohibits the entry of live pigs, pork, and pork products coming from Luzon, Mindanao, and Eastern Samar, which all have confirmed cases of swine disease.
The Department of Agriculture has tagged Negros Occidental as a “green zone” or an ASF-free province, making it one of the most trusted and major suppliers of pigs for slaughter in Luzon and other parts of the country.
Data from the Provincial Veterinary Office showed that Negros Occidental produces an average of 75,000 heads of market hogs per month.
With a monthly consumption of only 55,000 to 60,000 heads, the province has a surplus of at least 10,000 heads, making it capable of regularly supplying hogs to other areas.
“We have some backyard growers who can qualify now as commercial growers, which tells us that business is good,” Lacson said.
To date, the ASF has spread to several regions, 46 provinces, and 493 cities and municipalities.
Last May, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of calamity throughout the country due to the ASF outbreak.
“Such state is another aggravation to the pandemic we are currently facing. Truly, the Covid-19 crisis disrupted almost everything and has caused massive drawbacks. However, such should not stop us from commemorating our victories,” Lacson said.
During the program, the governor led the ceremonial slicing of a lechon (roasted pig) to show that pigs from Negros Occidental are ASF-free.
“May God continue to bless our endeavors to serve and protect our people, and to safeguard Negros Occidental from the continuing threat of the ASF,” Lacson said. (PNA)