Lower palay prices, African swine fever to weigh on farm sector: analyst

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2019 10:14 AM | Updated as of Sep 17 2019 04:09 PM

Rice farmer Rey Rodriguez talks to his nephews as they walk along their vegetable patch in the middle of their rice field in Guimba Nueva Ecija on September 02, 2019. Vegetable inter-crop is one of the ways they try to augment their sales. Selling vegetables at the local market, instead of Palay. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The outbreak of African swine fever and falling prices of rough rice could weigh on the agriculture sector, an analyst said Tuesday.

The disease could cut pork supply as demand picks up ahead of the holidays. Farmers will likely have less disposable income due to smaller margins on palay, Teneo managing director Bob Herrera-Lim told ANC.

"The challenge for the government is how to manage the two sides of that equation – keeping consumers happy but at the same time ensuring that [palay] farmers have disposable income," Herrera-Lim said.

Culling of pigs to contain the spread of African swine fever will also cause “supply gaps” in the 4th quarter when the demand for pork meat products such as lechon and ham surges, he said.

Over 7,000 pigs were culled to prevent the spread of the disease, which means affected farmers will have less income over the next 3 to 6 months or the time it takes to raise another batch, Herrera-Lim said.

Two thirds of the total 12 million hogs in the country are being raised in backyard piggeries, he said.

“As we’ve seen in Vietnam, this is a very difficult thing to do so we might have some supply gaps in the near term especially the source starts to get culled and you have a decline in supply coming in to the holiday season, which is not good for inflation, which makes consumers unhappy,” he said.

Farmers need immediate assistance in form of cash income support and tools to raise productivity, he said.

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