Resumption of the pork sector in the Philippines

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MANILA, Philippines – Stricter biosecurity measures, availability of African swine fever (ASF) vaccines and long-term policy support are key to ensuring the recovery of the Philippine pork sector, industry stakeholders say .

The local pig sector is expected to recover from African swine fever in 2024, five years after the 2019 outbreak, according to the latest forecasts from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Food Organization of the United Nations. and agriculture (OECD-FAO).

In its 10-year Global Agricultural Outlook (2022 to 2031), the OECD-FAO stated that global pork production is expected to increase by 17% at the end of the 10-year forecast period, compared to a level of base reduced by PPP in 2019-2021 and benefiting from increasing industry specialization and biosecurity measures.

However, the report noted that growth would remain limited in the early years of the outlook due to the ongoing recovery from African swine fever outbreaks in China, the Philippines and Vietnam.

He expects the recovery process to be completed in China and Vietnam by 2023 and the Philippines by 2024.

“Government strategies in the latter two are based on the development of a commercially available vaccine to control the spread of African swine fever, which will be key to reducing the risks of future African swine fever outbreaks,” the official said. OECD-FAO.

The president of the Philippines Pork Producers Federation, Rolando Tambago, agreed, noting that the country can only determine the recovery of the pork industry from African swine fever with the availability of vaccines.

“There is a good chance that a vaccine will be available next year for Filipino farmers, so let’s wait for it. We hope that a local trial of the NAVETCO ASF vaccine (developed by Vietnam and the United States) will begin soon,” he said in a text message to The STAR.

If this materializes, Tambago said it would be the third vaccine trial, noting that the trial of the vaccine by animal health care company Zoetis was not successful.

“We really hope to accelerate local trials and be successful,” he said.

The group is also pushing for a bigger budget for the compensation fund next year.

“Our suggestion is at least 9 billion pesos for compensation funds to stop the spread of ASF. Although there are protocols and control measures implemented by the government, the disease is continuously spreading across the country, except in Central Visayas, in Regions 6 and 7,” Tambago said.

“We believe that by doing this it will control the spread of African swine fever until vaccines arrive,” he said.

Currently, the areas free of African swine fever are regions 12, 6 and 7.

Meanwhile, the country must also strengthen its biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of African swine fever as the local pig industry begins to repopulate, according to Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG).

In a telephone interview, SINAG Chairman Rosendo So said the vaccine could take longer, so border inspection would be essential for the industry to fully recover.

“It is more about strict biosecurity measures on meat entering our country to stop the spread of African swine fever. We might even recover from ASF before 2024,” he said.

Last month, the United States and the Philippines partnered on a project to strengthen the country’s local veterinary services for the safety of pork and pork products.

The project is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s Emerging Markets Program and implemented by the University of Minnesota.

As part of the project, DA technical managers will receive a two-week training in the United States to equip them with the knowledge to conduct workshops across the Philippines to help combat the spread of African Swine Fever.

Tambago said the project was a “timely initiative that will build industry capacity in disease control.”

For his part, the president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc., Chester Tan, said that the knowledge gained from the project “can be passed on to our Asian neighbors to better equip farmers in their fight against ASF”.

Through the USDA-funded Building Safe Agricultural Food Enterprises (B-SAFE) project, the United States is currently assisting Filipino hog farmers in their restocking efforts by strengthening biosecurity measures at the farm level.

So far, the farm gate price for pork has already come down, said Under Secretary of Consumer Affairs and Agriculture Department spokeswoman Kristine Evangelista.

“With this, we can expect retail prices to come down, especially as our industry partners – traders and retailers – engaged on the issue at our consultation meeting,” said she declared.

As a result, prevailing retail prices per kilogram as of August 12 were 330 pesos for pork ham (kasim) and 340 pesos for pork liempo.

Due to the limited supply caused by African swine fever, kasim prices reached 400 pesos per kilogram while pork lempo even climbed to 450 pesos per kilogram.

Despite efforts to control African swine fever and restocking of pigs, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) still expects a supply shortfall in pork, among other things, which is expected to affect inflation for the rest of the year.

He said the pork supply shortfall is estimated at 65,800 metric tons (MT).

Meanwhile, the DA has projected a supply shortfall of about 120,000 metric tons of pork for this year.

Tambago agreed with the numbers, noting that there was still a shortage of pork across the country.

In addition to the spread of African swine fever, the local pig sector is suffering from continuously rising input costs and low producer confidence to increase production.

To help meet the high cost of production, the government should support the maize sector, which is a major source of feed for the pig industry, through subsidies, mechanization and post-harvest facilities. harvest.

“Why won’t the government support or subsidize the maize sector. We already have a big market here in the country. There is huge demand for maize not only from pigs but also from poultry and aquaculture sectors,” Tambago said.

If the corn industry recovers, the cost of production will decrease and lead to a lower cost of producing pork.

Meanwhile, pork producer confidence has plummeted due to the deluge of imports and lower tariffs.

In May last year, then-President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) 133, which increased the Minimum Access Volume (MAC) for pork to 254,210 metric tons. for 2021 from 54,210 MT, as one of the measures to increase local pork supply and stabilize market prices.

Duterte also signed EO 134, which provides that pork imports under the quota or those falling under the MAV will be imposed a 10% tariff for three months, then 15% for the remaining months. This is less than the initial rate of 30%.

Over-quota pork imports are subject to a 20% customs duty for the first three months, which is increased to 25% for the remaining months. This is less than the initial rate of 40%.

Earlier this year, Duterte signed EO 171, which extended the 15% in-quota and 25% out-of-quota tariff rates for pork through Dec. 31.

To increase the confidence of pork producers, the import policy should be changed and done only when necessary.

“The pork industry doesn’t really need subsidies. What we need are policies that make the environment more favorable for us to produce. If we rely on the government to increase production, nothing will happen. The pork industry is a private industry. Private industry is ready to invest if the policies are long-term and supportive,” Tambago said.

As the “ber” months approach, the local pork industry is working twice as hard to meet demand, as pork is a major ingredient in Philippine Christmas and New Year celebrations.

“We are really trying to increase our volume, especially in the still negative ASF areas,” Tambago said.

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