The agriculture department is considering a mass vaccination of hogs in the country particularly in high-risk areas once the trial of vaccine effectiveness is proven to fight African Swine Fever (ASF).

Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) Director Reildrin Morales said this is the direction the bureau is taking to protect the hog industry. The vaccine trial is currently being implemented in 10 commercial farms in Luzon that were previously affected by the ASF.

“It is one of the options na tinitingnan natin, of course, kung magiging maganda ang performance ng tina-trial natin na bakuna. Isa sa direksyon natin ay mag-mass vaccination tayo lalo na sa high risk areas, but still, this is subject sa magiging pag-uusap ng experts natin at producers,” Morales said in a virtual presser on Tuesday.

Morales said the strategy of the bureau is centralized in grassroots where the battle against ASF happens and the intervention has an immediate impact.

“Ang ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay’ ay inilalatag na natin so patuloy na ‘yong pagti-train natin ng barangay biosecurity measures. Iyong mga personalidad sa barangay na magiging kritikal ang role sa pagri-report ng ASF sa kanilang locality. Meron din tayong mga local veterinarian na involved dito,” he said.

Based on BAI record, as of June 4, ASF cases are only active in five regions, nine provinces, 15 cities or municipalities, and 19 barangays. The total number of culled animals hit 475,638, while affected farmers are 64,704.

As of May 31, DA-BAI has paid 37,675 affected farmers with a total disbursed amount of P1,553, 889,000.

Morales said it is still hard to say when will the spread of ASF ends due to many contributing factors, but the DA-BAI will have a ‘good grip’ of the situation in two to three years.

“Mahirap sabihin kung kalian matatapos ang African Swine Fever, sapagka’t maraming factors ang hindi natin hawak lalo na ‘yong how the stakeholders along the supply chain, the value chain behave. Kagaya ang Spain, despite the technology available to them, it took them 30 years to eradicate ASF. Pero sa Pilipinas naman, personally, I believe that in two or three years’ time, we will have a good handle, good grip of the situation,” he said.

“We will try to improve along the way lalo na sa surveillance and kailangan kasi maayos ang ating diagnostic infrastructure to support all our surveillance activities. Ginagawa naman natin ‘yan ngayon. In two or three years’ time, we will have, I think a good grip of the situation. Pero sa ngayon, nakita naman natin na maganda ang ating tinitingnan,” he added.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.