Albay ready for massive livestock production

LIGAO CITY –- Hundreds of rural families here and the entire 3rd district of Albay province are now bustling around in pursuit of their craving for a better barrio life, making use of the latest learning they got on advanced livestock production.

This feeling of excitement developed after they recently gathered at the city gymnasium for a free day-long training-seminar on swine and broiler production organized by the Local Council of Women (LCW) and the Ligao City Woman’s Club as part of the ongoing celebration of the International Women’s Month.

The activity was initiated to provide rural families with a meaningful gift package of livelihood opportunity, especially for local women, as they celebrate the month with the whole world, Linda Gonzalez, the wife of Albay 3rd congressional district Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, who heads both organizations, said on Wednesday.

It was supported by both the city government under Mayor Patricia Alsua and the office of Rep. Gonzalez.

Dr. Zoilo Lapus, a noted veterinarian and national and international lecturer, provided the lectures that taught the participants the latest technology—from backyard and community-based to commercial piggery and poultry farming.

In his lecture, Lapus said, hog raising is a Php160-billion industry of the Philippines that ranks third in international production next to China and Vietnam.

Nonetheless, he said, pig-rearing practices in the country still need a lot of improvement as about 70 percent of the animals are on a backyard level where infection pressure is high as biosecurity is compromised in a mostly one-site system entertaining great re-circulation and spread of pathogens.

Biosecurity such as isolation pens for sick or incoming pigs as well as standard protocols and quarantine period for newly purchased animals, Lapus explained, is not fully understood and implemented by most backyard farmers, thus, making farms vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

The pig production system mostly seen in the country predisposes the farm to a high disease challenge and the non-referral to regular diagnostic procedures creates confusion in coming up with a sound medication and vaccination program, according to Lapus.

Vaccination in most farms is established by convenience and hearsay or just by following recommendations of favorite suppliers while antibiotics, particularly in-feed products, are added routinely without a regular sensitivity test, he said.

Proper rearing practices, which community-based raisers should be primarily concerned with, Lapus said, are correct production system that includes biosecurity, genetics to ensure quality breeders, food and feeding system, farm recording for efficient monitoring and animal health.

Marketing should also be a major concern among small-scale producers, given that of the 30-percent commercial farm sector, only a few are fully integrated outside the common practice where pigs are usually sold through middlemen also known as “viajeros” who bring the pigs to slaughterhouses and distribute the carcasses to the wet markets.

This practice does not favor the sector of small producers who end up begging for a good price and detrimental to the entire industry, Lapus added.

Nonetheless, according to the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), animal production has been increasing rapidly in Asian countries — particularly Cambodia, Laos, Philippines and Vietnam.

Pig production, it said, shares 2.0 to 2.8 percent of the total value of national Gross Domestic Product and compared with their 31-percent share of the world meat production in 1980, developing countries are expected to produce 60 percent by 2020.

However, these countries have also increased dependency on imports of feed ingredients, veterinary supplies, and exotic genetic material in most countries, the PCAARRD said.

In the Philippines, the swine industry is the second largest contributor to the country’s agriculture, coming second to rice as preliminary data in 2010 shows that the country’s total swine inventory was estimated at 13.4 million heads, 71 percent of which coming from backyard producers and 29 percent raised commercially.

The country’s top-producing regions include the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon, accounting for 13.13 percent; Western Visayas, 11.56 percent; Central Luzon, 10.66 percent; Bicol Region, 7.84 percent; and Eastern Visayas, 7.30 percent.

Rep. Gonzalez said that through the recently concluded training-seminar, the 3rd district of Albay would be able to significantly contribute in improving Bicol’s swine and broiler industries by way of mobilizing its participants into a district-wide production at their communities.

“We start with prototype livestock farms that would be collectively managed by community members, applying the technology they learned from Dr. Lapus. The women’s organizations in each of the six towns and this city covered by the district will spearhead it,” he said.

Communities will be divided into clusters which will start with at least 20 heads of pig breeders or a hundred of broilers then go through stock dispersal until all interested groups or individuals are made production participants and the district is able to come up with a modern and integrated livestock farm, the congressman said.

This program will be guided by the local economic resilience goal formulated by his office for the district that include raising the income of rural families, sanitation and health, food security, environmental preservation and climate change adaptation, he added.

LWC vice president Ana Manlangit said the city’s women will start the production venture using its own fund while the city government will use part of its proceeds from the Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) of the national government to finance similar projects for clusters of the poorest of the poor families identified with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Danny Calleja/PNA/