By Dominic B. dela Cruz (Staff Reporter)

VINTAR, Ilocos Norteโ€”The African swine fever (ASF) has now affected this town.

Vintar Vice Mayor Victor Amado Rasimo personally confirmed this in an interview with the local media.

Rasimo reported that they have culled 581 ASF-infected hogs at Brgy. Dipilat here.

He said he and municipal agriculturist Dr. Myrna Simon have already met with the provincial ASF task force twice, which confirmed the ASF cases in the said barangay.

โ€œIsu a pangngaasi tayo appo lalo dagiti adda taraken na a baboy ti intero a Vintar ta ipalubos tayo kuma a maalaan iti blood samples dagiti baboy tayo tapnu saan kuman nga agwaras ken al-alisto met laeng a mai-declare ti ili tayo nga ASF-free no maduktalan a negative dagiti taraken tayo a baboy,โ€ Rasimo implored his townmates.

With the ASF cases, Rasimo noted that their hog raisers will now have a harder time selling their hogs for commercial purposes.

He added that Simon also declared that hog raisers who will not give blood samples of their hogs will force them to limit sale of their hogs in their own barangay.

As a result, Rasimo appealed to all hog raisers here to cooperate and voluntarily have their hogs undergo blood sampling. He added that negative results will make their town ASF-free.

โ€œLet us protect the hog raising industry in Vintar tapnu agtultuloy iti pinagtaraken tayo iti baboy ti ili tayo baben iti pinagtulnog tayo ken pinanglaban tayo iti kaada iti ASF iti lugar tayo,โ€ Rasimo stressed.

Municipal and the concerned barangay officials are still puzzled where the ASF virus emerged as this town is far from Solsona, which recorded the first ASF outbreak.

Rasimo also disclosed that there are some hog raisers who failed to insure their hogs at the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO).

Prior to this situation, the municipal government here allocated PHP170,ooo as livelihood support for local hog raisers but with the ASF outbreak, the fund will now be for the purchase of disinfectants.

โ€œTa awan met serbi nan nga igatang pay iti buryas no kastoy met nga adda ASFโ€™n,โ€ Rasimo opined.

The vice mayor considers the ASF situation here as โ€œalarmingโ€ as it affects their local economy, โ€œ[T]a saan tay met makalakun iti baboy ket dakkel iti epekto na dagitoy kakabsat tayo nga agtartaraken para iti panagbiag daโ€.

He, however clarified that all pork meat sold at their public market are ASF-free since they were checked for its safety for human consumption at the slaughterhouse.

With the ASF cases, Vintar is now on the โ€œred zone category dueโ€ to ASF.

Surrounding towns are now placed under โ€œpink zoneโ€. All of towns and city in the first district are now on the โ€œpink zoneโ€, with the exception of Pagudpud.

Manotoc vows help, assistance

MEANWHILE, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph M. Manotoc promised to continue working with all relevant agencies to assist ASF-affected hog farmers in Ilocos Norte.

โ€œWe count on our partners in the Department of Agriculture (DA), in the municipal government, and me, on behalf of the province. Tulong-tulong kaming lahat. We will do everything to support and assist you. Mahirap po talaga ngayon with everything happening. Hindi lang ang pandemya but we even have ASF,โ€ he said.

Manotoc, together with the provincial ASF task force, personally distributed ASF surveillance kits containing pig restrainer vacutainers, bioassay collection paraphernalia, needles and their applicators, disposable caps and gloves, labeling materials, tackle and cooler boxes, Ziplocs, face masks, and alcohol gel packs to ASF-affected barangays in Dingras and Solsona. They also gave power sprayers and hoses.

Additionally, they also dispersed four cattle, five sheep, three goats, and 160 upgraded chicks to the said barangays.

In total, almost 150 hog-raisers have been provided with livestock-producing alternatives from the DA and provincial government since June 2021.

Moreover, the provincial government has also distributed nearly 700 food packs, along with ASF surveillance kits to affected hog farmers in Carasi, Dingras, Marcos, Nueva Era, and Solsona, while ASF-hit hog raisers in Banna, Sarrat, and Vintar will receive their shares soon.

At present, reports of pig deaths have led pork prices to drop to PHP125-130 per kilo of live weight, according to the Provincial Veterinary Office. (With a report from Blessing Angel V. Agliam)