MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has submitted to Malacañang its recommendation to increase the minimum access volume (MAV) on pork imports to raise the country's stock, the agency's head said Tuesday, amid supply woes due to the African swine fever.
During his remarks before the House Committees on Agriculture and Food and Trade and Industry, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the proposed MAV planned to increase pork imports to 404,210 metric tons.
As of the first week of February, the MAV was at around 54,000 metric tons, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles had said.
"The process is now ongoing for the approval of the proposed MAV plans increasing the total MAV," Dar told lawmakers.
"Last night, we have submitted to Malacañang the resolution by the MAV management council recommending increased MAV for pork for 2021 and is now awaiting the President’s signature," he added.
The agency, during its presentation, noted that with the pork demand in the country estimated at 1.6 million metric tons, there is a supply deficit of some 400,000 metric tons.
Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, for her part, said the Department of Trade and Industry would also look into imposing regulations on imported meat products.
During a Cabinet meeting in early February, the DA has recommended the MAV expansion "just enough to cover the projected shortfall for the year."
LOWERING PORK TARIFFS
There was also a separate proposal to lower tariff for pork for a year, according to the official.
"Tariff commission is also finalizing its report and recommendations to the cabinet committee on tariff and related matters regarding our separate proposal to further lower tariff on pork for a period of one year," he pointed out.
Dar added that a daily average of 4,500 hogs from other parts of the country has been brought to Metro Manila to increase the pork supply.
President Rodrigo Duterte had signed Executive Order No. 124 which sets a price ceiling for pork kasim and pigue at P270/kg, P300/kg for liempo, and P160/kg in the capital region for 60 days, as prices of these have spiked due to the African swine fever outbreak, among other reasons.
ProPork’s Edwin Chen, meanwhile, asserted that setting the price ceiling of pork products at P330 to P360 would be better for hog producers than giving them a subsidy.
“Ito ang presyo na will work for everyone. Mae-enganyo dito na mag-produce ang hog raisers," explained Chen.
(This is the price that will work for everyone. Hog raisers will be encouraged to produce because of this price.)
Chen had said that the subsidy might not be enough to get hog raisers to produce, adding they must be encouraged to invest through a conducive environment.
He also wanted the indemnification fund to cover both commercial growers and backyard growers and for the indemnification to be pegged at P10,000 instead of just P5,000.
Pork accounts for 60 percent of meat consumption in the Philippines, where the swine industry is valued at P260 billion, the DA had said.