THE Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) has gathered key agriculture players who underscored the importance of adopting science-based approaches and latest technologies to address the challenges facing livestock raisers and achieve self-sufficiency in meat and dairy production.The second run of the Landbank AgriSenso Virtual Forum on Aug. 30, 2022 put the spotlight on the livestock industry and featured National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI) chairman Chester Warren Y. Tan; RDF Feed, Livestock & Foods Inc. founder and chief executive officer Dr. Robert H. Lo; Bureau of Animal Industry–Livestock Research and Development Division Research and Management Section head Maria Laarni P. Cerna; and Landbank Program Management Department I assistant vice president Edgardo S. Luzano.According to NFHFI chairman Tan, the livestock industry remains resilient despite various challenges caused by climate change, high production costs, global animal diseases, and market slowdown. Many pig farmers, for instance, have already succeeded in their repopulation efforts amid threats from the African swine fever (ASF) by adopting strict and globally-accepted biosecurity standards, he shared.“The challenge is to educate, teach, and get all farmers to commit and accept the new normal of swine farming. We must learn to live with the virus and protect our farms by strengthening our biosecurity and facilities,” Tan said.Dr. Lo likewise believed that embracing innovation is key to overcoming present challenges besetting the livestock industry. He shared innovative approaches that the RDF adopted to manage the impact of ASF and climate change, among others.“The best time to re-populate is now because of the insufficient supply in the market. And if we re-populate, we need to do it right by applying a science-based approach to increase production. With bigger farms and good biosecurity, we can achieve this,” Lo said.Meanwhile, Cerna discussed the country’s roadmap for the livestock industry, and shared the budgetary requirements to implement all the programs and projects included in the plan.Lending programsLuzano discussed available credit programs for hog raisers, as well as stakeholders engaged in dairy production, processing, marketing, and other dairy-based economic activities.Designed in support of National Government efforts to re-populate and increase local hog production, Landbank is offering the Special Window and Interim Support to Nurture Hog Enterprises (Swine) Lending Program to commercial hog raisers registered as cooperatives or farmers’ associations, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and large enterprises or corporations.As of July 31, 2022, Landbank had approved loans totaling P3.2 billion to 25 borrowers under the Swine Lending Program, with outstanding loans amounting to P1.8 billion.To boost the local dairy industry, Landbank also provides credit assistance under the Masustansiyang Inumin para sa Likas na Kalusugan (Milk) Program for qualified cooperatives or associations, federations, countryside financial institutions, SMEs, and agri-business entities.A total of P183 million in loans have been approved to seven borrowers under the Landbank Milk Program as of end-July 2022, with outstanding loans of P89.4 million.The AgriSenso Virtual Forums form part of Landbank’s intensified support to the agriculture sector and addresses the request of customers to learn more about available credit facilities. Each session focuses on a specific agriculture industry or topic, with industry experts and players invited to share insights, best practices, and opportunities for growth.The next run of the Landbank AgriSenso Virtual Forum will be held on Sept. 12, 2022 to discuss the legislated programs for individual farmers jointly implemented by Landbank and the Department of Agriculture.