Farmers score lack of support in Avian virus breakout in Ilocos


VIGAN CITY — Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (STOP Exploitation) said that the extent and massive death mostly of native chickens and turkeys caused by the New Castle Disease Virus, locally known a pangok is the result of the government’s lack of support for backyard raisers and farmers for veterinary supplies and technology.

The group said that backyard chicken raisers, mostly farmers themselves are the most affected by the epidemic effect of the highly transmittable fowl disease.

Reports indicate that 65 municipalities across the four provinces of Ilocos are affected by the avian virus resulting to at least 109,255 deaths as of February 29. Fourteen municipalities are affected each in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, 17 in La Union and 20 in Pangasinan.

About 11,700 fowls, mostly native chicken and game cocks remains at risk said Dr. Annie Bares, head of the DA field operations division in the region. She also said that big industries were not affected by the outbreak because they have their own vaccines. Data from the National Meat Inspection Service show that poultry supply in Ilocos decreased by 71% in February.

“The DA and the local government’s response is late and slow,” said Zaldy Alfiler, the group’s Secretary General. He said that big industries were able to cope with the outbreak because the government is more inclined to provide assistance to big agribusinesses than small producers and backyard raisers.

Alfiler cited the tax and non-tax incentives, including a six-year tax holiday awarded by the Aquino government to Thai-owned company Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippine Corp (CPF) in 2013. The move was protested by local broiler producers for boosting the “already huge capitalization and overwhelming competitive capacity” of CPF to the detriment and bankruptcy of small local poultry raisers.

“DA and local governments should focus their resources and provide incentives for backyard and small poultry growers to develop their capacity to adopt and prevent further of the disease,” adds Alfiler.

The New Castle vaccine is usually administered orally and is recommended for administration to healthy chickens as an aid in the prevention of Newcastle disease. #