Cam­paign on to save na­tive Ifugao pigs

The Philippine Star - - BUSINESS - ARTEMIO DUMLAO

BAGUIO CITY – The peo­ple of Ifugao want to save not only their de­te­ri­o­rat­ing rice ter­races but their dwin­dling na­tive pigs as well.

In Ifugao of old, na­tive pigs roam freely in the rice ter­races. But as the rice ter­races and ha­bal (swid­den farms) be­gan de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, na­tive pigs also started to dis­ap­pear.

Like na­tive chick­ens, na­tive pigs played an im­por­tant role in the eco­nomic and cul­tural land­scape of a typ­i­cal Ifugao vil­lage in the past.

Used in rit­u­als, wed­dings, birth and death rites, pigs are an es­sen­tial part of the cul­tural life be­cause pig’s bile are read like books by the mum­bakis (na­tive priests).

While ad­mit­tedly most of the indige­nous rit­u­als are dis­ap­pear­ing, the value and use of pigs don’t. Many fam­i­lies still buy pigs for spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

Dur­ing peak sea­son, they will even buy out­side Ifugao just to sat­isfy their crav­ing.

This prompted Ifugao State Uni­ver­sity (IFSU) agri­cul­ture de­part­ment as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor El­pidio Basilio Jr. to save the na­tive pigs.

Basilio stud­ied the ge­netic com­po­nents and es­tab­lished the “nu­cleus herd” of the Ifugao na­tive pig at IFSU.

He found out that at least five strains of Ifugao na­tive pigs are rare and unique species when he com­pared th­ese ge­netic sam­ples from the Kalinga and Tai­wan na­tive pigs.

Basilio is con­duct­ing fur­ther tests and ex­per­i­ments to im­prove the Ifugao na­tive pig breed.

Sav­ing and mod­i­fy­ing the Ifugao na­tive pig breed is im­por­tant, he said.

“Our na­tive pigs have been part of our cul­ture. Fam­ily and com­mu­nity rit­u­als and oc­ca­sions are al­ways per­formed at the ex­pense of the na­tive pig,” Basilio said.

An­other im­por­tant fea­ture of the na­tive pig, he said, is it is adap­tive and re­silient to harsh con­di­tions.

“With th­ese pos­i­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics, we col­lected the five strains of our Ifugao na­tive pigs to pu­rify and mul­ti­ply their num­ber in our IFSU nu­cleus herd.

“Once we com­plete the process of pu­ri­fy­ing and in­creas­ing the num­ber of Ifugao na­tive pigs in our nu­cleus herd, we will dis­pose and dis­trib­ute them to our lo­cal farm­ers and com­mu­ni­ties as an ad­di­tional source of liveli­hood,” Basilio said.

The pu­ri­fied Ifugao na­tive pig is also low cost in main­te­nance and non­cap­i­tal in­ten­sive. Farm­ers can use lo­cal and avail­able ma­te­ri­als for hous­ing, food and other main­te­nance for the na­tive pigs.

Basilio hopes the Ifugao na­tive pig project will pro­vide farm­ers an al­ter­na­tive source of liveli­hood.

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