The Department of Agriculture (DA) has urged hog raisers to register for insurance to be able to get double indemnity for every animal culled due to African swine fever (ASF).

DA regional executive director Angel Enriquez said in an interview Tuesday that starting July, their agency will stop paying indemnities to ASF-hit farmers since payment will go through the swine insurance program of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), an attached agency of DA.

The insurance program is a relaxed version of the agency’s regular livestock insurance program, offering free premium payments for backyard raisers and discounted premium for commercial hog raisers, and increased indemnity payments for culled hogs.

The insurance, according to Enriquez, covers PHP10,000 per head of pig culled, doubling the amount paid under the DA’s indemnity program.

“The insurance premium is free. Hog raisers just need to register to avail the program. With the increased indemnity, hog raisers are encouraged to report affected pigs, thus controlling the ASF from spreading,” Enriquez told reporters.

The official asked farmers to register at local agriculture offices to benefit from the 100 percent cost. The local government units will then submit the name of hog raisers to the PCIC.

As of June 21, at least 12,946 live hogs have been depopulated as a strategy to contain the disease that has already affected 30 towns and cities in the region in the past six months.

The ASF virus has been present in Abuyog, Javier, La Paz, Dulag, MacArthur, Tanauan, Palo, Pastrana, Burauen, Tacloban City, Jaro, Mayorga, Carigara, Tolosa, Tabontabon, Dagami, Sta. Fe, San Miguel, Tunga, Barugo, and Mahaplag in Leyte.

In other provinces, affected areas are Lope de Vega, Catarman, and Mondragon in Northern Samar; Silago in Southern Leyte; Catbalogan City, Sta. Rita, and Calbayog City, Samar; and Dolores and Oras in Eastern Samar.

Abuyog town is the most affected town in the region with 37 out of 63 villages that have confirmed ASF cases.

Leyte is the first province in the Visayas which recorded confirmed ASF infection. The first case was recorded on Jan. 14 in Abuyog town.

Initial investigation showed the ASF virus could have been transmitted to local farms in Leyte through infected boar being used for natural mating and by hog traders who might have fed their stocks with contaminated food products.

In Samar Island, the ASF virus has spread through the transport of pork meat.

Pigs affected by ASF usually manifest high fever, distinct reddish areas on the skin of the neck, chest, and extremities, and bleeding of internal organs that could lead to death within two to 10 days. (PNA)