By Melo Acuña

Acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar

Newly appointed Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he had ordered the revival of a Crisis Management Team (CMT) after reports of increased mortality in hogs raised in backyards.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the Department of Agriculture said it suspected a major animal disease, and confirmatory tests results were being examined here and abroad.

Dar said he had directed his staff to conduct further confirmatory laboratory tests, requiring the shipment of blood samples to foreign laboratories to ascertain the cause of the animals’ deaths.

“We ordered the Crisis Management Team to work closely with key industry players and local government officials to manage the incident and carry out ground-level operations,” Dar said.

He assured animal industry stakeholders and the general public that the department was conducting monitoring and vigilance, including the imposition of stricter quarantine measures across airports and seaports.

“We call on all high raisers, commercial and backyard raisers to strictly observe and practice good livestock standards, including the needed biosecurity measures,” he added.

Dar did not release figures on hog deaths. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the total swine inventory in the country was 12.73 million heads as of April 1, 2019, 0.2 percent lower compared with the previous year’s 12.75 million heads.

Swine in backyard farms reached 8.06 million heads, down 1 percent from the previous year’s headcount of 8.14 million heads.