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Recovering from outbreaks

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The Department of Agriculture is projecting the country’s pork output to surge, noting that production has started picking up since last year and sustained its upward trajectory in the final quarter of 2022.

The livestock subsector registered a growth of 4.1 percent in the January to March period, a turnaround from a decrease of 1 percent in the same period a year ago, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

“I still have to do some analysis on where this is going but based on the first quarter growth rate of [4.1 percent], we’re hoping that it will increase,” said Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla.

Hog production hit 436,990 metric tons during the reference period, against the 416,720 MT in the previous period. Calabarzon emerged as the leading hog producer, accounting for 14 percent of the total.

Sombilla expressed hope the government’s existing programs such as the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) program which aims to fast track calibrated repopulation and production expansion through farm clustering and consolidation, will lift the local swine output in the succeeding quarters.

However, the upbeat outlook of the DA clashed with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report which stated ASF would still affect pork output this year. The UDSA Foreign Agricultural Service lowered the 2023 pork output forecast to 925,000 MT from 975,000 MT, pointing to the continued spread of animal disease to the Central and Western Visayas regions, which includes Negros Occidental. Both regions were among the major swine producers in the past year, following the decimation of swine inventories in other parts of the country.

In our case, Negros Island is still reeling from devastating outbreaks of hog cholera and the recent detection of African swine flu, after having managed to remain ASF-free for years. As the Negrense swine industry struggles to cope with the outbreaks and challenges that come with it, we can take comfort in the ability of the industry to recover with the help of government, as proven by the other areas that have been ravaged by swine diseases in the past few years, that are starting to give the DA reason to be optimistic.

Hopefully our government and the people responsible for managing the response to these outbreaks and outline the recovery plan, have learned from the hard-earned lessons of the past, allowing the industry’s recovery to come quicker.*

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