By Stephanie Sevillano

INCREASED DEMAND. A wet market vendor sells bangus on April 5, 2022 in Gapan Market in Nueva Ecija. The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday (March 19, 2024) said prices of fish may start to hike amid rising demand during the Lenten season. (PNA photo by Oliver Marquez)

MANILA – Prices of fish are expected to increase as the Holy Week approaches, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Tuesday. 

In an interview, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said the price hike may be felt in wet markets, even more, starting Holy Monday. 

“People are weaning away from consuming pork and other protein kagaya ng baka (like beef),” he said. 

“Kasi tayo, 85 percent Catholics ang mga Pilipino (Because 85 percent of Filipinos are Catholics) so that drives alone, na mga Katoliko na nagninilay, kasama na iyon especially for Black Friday (are meditating, that includes especially Black Friday),” De Mesa added. 

Traditionally, the adjustment may hit around 10 percent to 20 percent price increase. 

According to the latest DA’s Bantay Presyo (price watch) monitoring, retail prices of bangus, galunggong and alumahan (milkfish, local round scad and Indian mackerel) slightly increased from Friday, March 15 in Metro Manila. 

Milkfish is now at PHP150/kilogram to PHP220/kg from last week’s PHP140/kg to PHP250/kg; local round scad is now at PHP180/kg to PHP300 from PHP170-PHP300; while Indian mackerel is at PHP260 to PHP360 from PHP240 to PHP360 price range.  

The price of tilapia and imported round scads, meanwhile, stayed the same. 

For vegetables, De Mesa said there may also be a slight hike considering it is also a meat alternative. 

“Sa gulay, ganun din halos parehas sa isda pero hindi kagaya ng isda na mas mahal, mas malaki iyong tinataas (For vegetables, it’s almost the same with fish but not like fish which has a higher spike),” he said. 

No price cap needed

The DA, meanwhile, said there is no need to implement a price cap despite the price increase of several commodities. 

These include pork which is now priced at PHP420/kg amid the remaining threat of African swine fever (ASF) in the country. 

“We are not considering any price ceiling on any commodity kahit sa pork… Sa ngayon kasi kapag mayroon kang pagpigil, magca-cause iyan ng mga problema rin na ayaw nating mangyari sa atin (even in pork… For now, maybe if there’s a constraint, it may cause a problem which we do not want to happen to us),” De Mesa said.

He said there are adequate efforts to fortify the country’s biosecurity measures, as well as continuous coordination with the private stakeholders in the swine industry. 

The DA earlier expressed optimism about securing the supply of ASF vaccines by the year-end or early 2025. 

The country also requested ASF vaccine suppliers from the US and Vietnam to secure their applications before the Food and Drug Administration. (PNA)