MANILA, Feb 8 (Mabuhay) — Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate on Monday said the Department of Agriculture’s plan to import meat products would push the hog and poultry sector to its “eventual death.”
In a statement, Zarate criticized the plan of the agency as he questioned why the national government has always resorted to importing products, adding that importation should always be the last resort in dealing with rising prices of products.
“Bakit ba palaging ang default reaction ng Duterte administration, lalo na ng DA, ay palagi ang pag-iimport at hindi ang tulungang paunlarin ang mga magsasaka ng ating bansa?” Zarate said.
“Tayo ang pinakamalaking importer ng bigas sa mundo, ngayon pati ba naman sa baboy at manok ay target din ng DA na tayo ang manguna? Habang naghihirap na nga ang mayorya ng nasa sektor ng agrikultura lalo lang silang binabaon ng pamahalaan sa hukay,” he added.
The prices of pork and chicken prices have continued to increase despite the price freeze implemented late last year due to the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.
In January, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the national government is eyeing to increase the volume of pork imports to ensure a stable supply of pork and chicken meat in the country.
But citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Zarate pointed out the local production of pork and chicken is enough for its demand in the Philippines.
“According to the PSA, the per capita consumption of pork and chicken in 2020 is 15 kilos and 13.7 kilos, respectively. This translates to an estimated consumption of 1.5 million metric tons and 1,479.6 thousand metric tons,” Zarate said.
“Meanwhile, local production of pork and chicken in 2020 is 2,142.65 thousand metric tons and 1,809.85 thousand metric tons, respectively. Now where does the DA get its data that there is a need to import? Is it saying that the PSA data is wrong?” he added.
Zarate said what needs to be done is “to increase support for hog and pou?try raisers so that they can also increase production.”
“Again, we re-echo these calls given during our dialogue with local raisers and breeders, as well as farmers groups: They need concrete programs to accelerate re-population of hog stock that is now nearly wiped out by ASF and a stop to more importation,” Zarate said.
“What they seek is government’s support to the agriculture industry and not DA’s or NEDA’s (National Economic and Development Authority) proposals to reduce tariff for imports of agricultural products,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the imposition of a price cap on pork and chicken for 60 days in Metro Manila.
Effective February 8, a price cap per kilogram of P270 was implemented for kasim and pigue, P300 for liempo, and P160 for dressed chicken.
Early Monday morning, supply of pork and dressed chicken in wet markets in Metro Manila was reportedly low as many meat vendors went on “pork holiday” on the first day of the price ceiling imposed by the government.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes, however, said that sanctions against retailers who joined the move are not forthcoming yet.
Reyes said the department is currently monitoring the situation on the ground amid the implementation of the price ceiling in Metro Manila.
“Wala po naman (parusa) at hindi natin mabibigyan ng paratang muna dahil nagmo-monitor lang po muna kami,” he said. (MNS)