By Franco G. Regala

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — After reeling from massive setback from the African Swine Fever (ASF) last year, farmers and hog raisers here have now a reason to smile — thanks to the P32-M worth of livestock assistance provided by the government to jumpstart the waning hog industry in the province.

Governor Dennis “Delta” Pineda who led the distribution of P32-M worth of livestock in Brgy Sindalan recently said that the assistance initiated by the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the rehabilitation and recovery program was intended for the severely affected hog-raisers and farmers.

He said that some 400 carabaos, 500 cattles, and 500 goats were distributed to 6, 718 ASF affected hog-raisers in the province.

He said the beneficiaries were chosen based on the number of hogs culled from each affected farmer – for every 11 to 20 culled heads, the farmer was given carabao or cattle; for 10 and below culled hogs, goats were given.

“Ito pong proyekto na ito ay livelihood program na ibinigay po ni Secretary William Dar and President Rodrigo Duterte in addition sa payment na ibinigay sa atin para sa mga kinal na baboy last year,” he said.

“Sana po makapagsimula po tayo muli,” the governor said.

In October last year, ASF hit several backyard farms in the Philippines with those severely affected in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, and Rizal. Agriculture officials say that the outbreak had caused $20 million a month in losses to the hog industry.

The governor disclosed that the national government has allocated at least P300 million financial assistance for the province to serve as indemnity payment to hog-raisers hit by ASF.

According to him, this rehabilitation project is additional assistance given to the affected farmers in the province to give them the chance to recover from their losses due to the ASF outbreak and the continuing spread of COVID-19.