Agriculture Secretary William Dar has assured the availability of funds to help small backyard hog raisers who were affected by the African swine fever (ASF). 

Dar was reacting to a report published in a national newspaper that there is not enough fund to assist backyard hog raisers affected by the dreaded swine disease.

“The headline of one major newspaper was malicious and misleading. It is far from the truth,” the agriculture chief said.

“It’s clear in the story that we have money, but we have to understand that paying each raiser the actual cost of culled pigs would mean benefiting only a few hundred raisers, and leaving out others,” the agriculture head said. 

With an initial reported 7,416 culled pigs, Dar said the Department of Agriculture (DA) will have to spend an initial P22.25 million, at an average assistance of P3,000 per head, regardless of the pig’s weight and age.

Dar said the DA, through the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC), is also giving a zero-interest, no-collateral loan of P30,000 for every ASF-affected hog raiser, which was also mentioned in the newspaper story, which he said, clearly contradicted the headline.

“The DA is giving a zero-interest, no-collateral loan worth P30,000 per ASF-affected hog raiser.”

The DA-ACPC has allotted an initial P60 million to benefit some 2,000 small backyard raisers in 11 ASF-affected barangays in Rizal, Bulacan, and Quezon City.

“With this capital to tide them over, affected swine raisers can engage in any appropriate livelihood venture like broiler, layer and goat raising, and vegetable production,” he said.

“We wish to seek the support of the media to be more discerning and responsible in their reportage of this unfortunate episode, besetting our swine industry, where about two-thirds come from small backyard raisers,” Dar said.

He also appealed to the local chief executives, farmers and fisherfolk, and members of the public and private sectors to cooperate with the DA in tackling urgent agricultural concerns in the country, such as the low price of palay and the threat of ASF. 

“Nakikiusap po kami dito sa Department of Agriculture na tayong lahat ay magtulungan para maresolba ang mga kasalukuyang problema ng sektor ng agrikultura dito sa ating bansa (The DA is appealing to all stakeholders to cooperate in tackling issues concerning agriculture in our country),” Dar said. 

“The DA is appealing to all stakeholders to cooperate in tackling issues concerning agriculture.” 

“Hindi tayo dapat tumitigil na gumawa ng measures para mapaunlad ang mga magsasaka sa kabukiran (We should not stop in coming up with measures that would uplift the lives of farmers in the countryside),” he added.

Dar also underscored the role of the local government units, which are on the front line in serving the agriculture and fisheries sector.

With everyone’s help, he is optimistic that by the end of his three-year term, the agriculture sector would grow by at least 3 percent to 5 percent.

“Kaya natin ito kung tayo ay tulong-tulong (We can achieve this if we cooperate with one another). We have to do this responsibility together,” Dar said. 

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