*CHERYL G. CRUZ
Backyard and commercial hog raisers in Negros Occidental can now avail of additional support from the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, with P300 million in credit funds allotted for areas free of the African swine fever.
The virtual ceremonial signing of the memorandum was led by DA Secretary William Dar, approving an additional P300 million for the implementation of the Agri-Negosyo (ANYO) Swine R3 program, Sept. 10.
The fund will be utilized to finance the working capital requirements of eligible swine projects in Green Zones, or ASF-Free Areas, particularly Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental, as well as regions 4B, 7, and 9, the ACPC said.
This is on top of the initial P500 million credit funds for the ANYO Swine R3, or Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Repopulation, for ASF-affected and non-ASF-affected areas.
The ANYO Swine R3 program provides zero-interest, non-collateralized loans to eligible swine backyard raisers, semi-commercial raisers, farmers’ cooperatives or associations, and micro and small enterprises.
Eligible borrowers can use the loan as working capital for production, processing, marketing, acquisition of machinery or equipment, or construction of modern technology facilities for their swine raising venture, ACPC executive director Jocelyn Badiola said.
National Livestock Program director Ruth Miclat-Sonaco said there will be a calibrated repopulation for Green Zones.
Calibrated repopulation will be executed through clustering and consolidation. The cluster shall adapt modern facilities showcasing climate controlled system and minimum biosecure facilities for disease resilience to ensure freedom from ASF, she said.
In Negros Occidental, the Provincial ASF Task Force has intensified the bio-security protocol of the province on the entry and exit of livestock transport carriers by imposing a “no sticker, no entry” policy to all livestock haulers and carriers in seaports, provincial borders, slaughterhouses, and auction markets.
This is aside from checkpoints in the airport and seaports of the province.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said in his recent State of the Province Address that the P6 billion swine industry of the province remains to be protected through the concerted effort of the Provincial Veterinary Office, hog raisers associations, and private partners.
Negros Occidental was the first province in Western Visayas to pass an ordinance against ASF, followed by Antique, Iloilo, and Aklan, while Guimaras and Capiz are still crafting theirs to ensure that the region remains free from the dreaded disease. – CGC