500 Leon farmers gather for first livestock summit

Posted by: RAFIS DA6 | Posted at: September 13, 2023

Showcasing unity and determination, nearly 500 livestock raisers from Leon, Iloilo, congregated at the Leon Municipal Gym on September 11, 2023. The occasion marked the 1st Municipal Livestock Summit and celebrated the 1st anniversary of the Leon Hog Farmers Association. The event’s primary objective was to boost farmers’ productivity and profitability by advocating for the integration of crops and livestock, highlighting the crucial role of livestock raising as a significant source of livelihood.

The municipality of Leon has emerged as a powerhouse in livestock production, boasting impressive statistics. According to data from August 2023, the municipality houses over 4,000 cows, more than 4,000 carabaos, approximately 1,500 goats, and an astonishing 7,000 hogs. This livestock sector contributes significantly to the local economy, making Leon a frontrunner in livestock production.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing for Leon’s livestock industry. The persistent threat of African Swine Fever (ASF) looms over the region, requiring vigilant efforts to safeguard the sector. The municipality has conducted extensive ASF awareness campaigns to combat this threat and established a 24/7 checkpoint at entry points to prevent the disease’s incursion. Municipal Mayor Lina Holipas emphasized the importance of early detection and control and urged all farmers to participate in the LGU’s reporting mechanism to maintain an ASF-free status. Similarly, in the face of climate change, Leon’s local government has also taken proactive measures to protect farmers’ livelihoods.

SB Hilario Tano highlighted the creation of the 4H club, an organization that encouraged young farmers to engage in agriculture, ensuring the industry’s sustainability for future generations.

Ryan Caldito, Municipal Agriculturist, urged farmers to take advantage of essential services such as artificial insemination, vaccination, and deworming provided by the Municipal Agricultural Office. The office is well-equipped with four artificial insemination technicians. It plans to cluster barangays to better respond to agricultural guidelines and prioritize associations or groups for its programs and projects. Furthermore, Leon is on its way to establishing an “AA” slaughterhouse, a crucial step in becoming the buffalo capital of Western Visayas and a livestock hub for the Panay-Guimaras Island region.

During the summit, Perlito Echeche, President of LECOFADA, highlighted the association’s unwavering commitment to buffalo breeding and re-trading, emphasizing their well-structured approach, including synchronized schedules for artificial insemination, deworming, and vitamin administration every six months, alongside efforts to secure adequate food sources like Napier grass for large ruminants. Echeche expressed gratitude for the cooperative spirit among livestock farmers and acknowledged the instrumental role of government programs in their endeavors. 

Meanwhile, Isabelo Luscares, Chairperson of PAFC, stressed the critical role of policy and legislation work within the Agri-Fishery Council, emphasizing their dedication to engaging with farmers’ groups to identify community needs and foster collaboration on various projects and programs. Luscares also highlighted the significance of gatherings like this, which facilitates vital dialogue and cooperation among key stakeholders.

Catherine Lozada, President of the Leon Goat Raisers’ Association, echoed the sentiment of unity and purpose. She emphasized their goal of advancing goat farming practices and elevating standards while improving livelihoods and contributing to the local economy. Lozada’s words encapsulated the spirit of the event: “We just began, but our determination and passion are boundless. Together, we can transform Leon into an excellent contributor to the growth of our agricultural landscape.”

Department of Agriculture (DA) Western Visayas and its attached agencies representatives such as the National Dairy Authority, Philippine Carabao Center, DA-WV National Livestock Program, Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation; also, the Iloilo Provincial Agriculture Office and Provincial Veterinary Office were present to present their agency’s plans and programs for livestock raisers.

The event demonstrated the resilience of Leon’s farmers and their dedication to sustaining and expanding the vital livestock industry that drives the municipality’s prosperity.### Texts by Maria Corazon M. Buala and Photos by Myleen S. Subang and Joan N. Capaciete/DA-RAFIS 6