I don’t know what has become of the Department of Agriculture, forecasting pork shortages that could only be used by shrewd traders and vendors as an excuse to hoard supplies to create such a scenario and then jack up prices to their hearts’ delight.
Last April 27, I came across this story where the director for DA’s National Livestock Program, a Ruth Miclat-Sonaco, said that a surging epidemic of African Swine Fever (ASF) might result ina possible pork shortage of 46,104 metric tons by June with demand at 145,849 metric tons. She made the forecast during the Cargill Animal Nutrition Summit.
With the lack of supplies locally, the pork shortage may last at least 39 days, she said.
As of March, the ASF-affected barangays totaled 137 from 54 municipalities, 21 provinces and 11 regions. The affected areas are 17 regions, 63 provinces, 814 municipalities and 4,418 barangays, she added.
The summit, attended by global and local animal nutrition experts, swine farmers and industry partners, discussed market outlook, perspectives, and opportunities in the swine business with a focus on the Philippine market.
Last January, the US Department of Agriculture projected Philippine pork production to reach 1 million MT in 2023 as commercial pork producers plan to raise larger pigs. This would represent an 8-percent increase from 2022 (925,000 MT) as production was reduced due to African swine fever outbreaks.
Pork imports, meanwhile, were forecast to increase 4 percent from last year to reach 600,000 MT in response to lower tariffs that had been extended through December 31, 2023. Imports in 2022 were estimated at 575,000 MT.
If we import more than last year’s volume of pork of 575,000 metric tons and demand, which, as projected by Miclat-Sonaco, could reach 145,849 metric tons, then supply from imports alone would be sufficient for our domestic requirements. So what happens now to our local hog farmers? Are we really killing the local hog industry?
Cargill Philippines president/managing director Sonny Catacutan said his company is focused on driving success for its customers and enabling a brighter and more secure future for the swine industry.
Isn’t it enough that the tariffs for pork, among other food products, had been lifted and such would be the case until December 31 this year. Isn’t it enough that should tightness in supply come about, importers would still enjoy duty- and tax-free protection for their shipments.
The DA should come to the aid of local hog farmers while they are still not affected by ASF and at their best to derive better incomes from their products.
Local government units are tasked to strictly follow the National Zoning implementation and movement plan depending on the level of ASF risks. In Mindanao, the government of Zamboanga plans to distribute sentinel pigs to ASF-affected barangays to confirm the presence of the disease.
In Luzon, Pangasinan province has extended the total ban on the entry of live pigs, pork, and pork by-products from ASF affected areas until June 30, 2023.
In Visayas, Antique province, residents were advised not to get pork and other related products outside of the province to avoid ASF.
The Cebu provincial government issued a couple of Executive Orders (EOs) after the confirmation of ASF virus in blood samples of pigs in Carcar City. It also established a strict border control in all ports of entry, ordered authorities in all ports to implement the EO, and revoked all livestock transport passes issued for livestock transport vehicles and refer vans from Negros.