Duterte sees need for more pork imports

BASIC COMMODITIES PRICES UP / JANUARY 19, 2021 Vendors at the wet market section of Pasig Mega Market sell few poultry and pork meat on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 as prices soar due to the effect of Asian Swine Fever (ASF) and dwindling supply of chicken as poultry farms have gone bankrupt last year. INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

President Rodrigo Duterte has proposed an increase in the volume of imported pork products to 350,000 metric tons (MT) from the present 54,210 MT, Malacañang has announced.

“The Palace confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recommended the increase in the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) for pork by 350,000 MT, in addition to the current MAV of 54,210 MT for the year 2021,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement issued Friday night.

The latest move, Roque said, was meant to address rising food prices and boost pork supply in the country.

“This is to immediately augment the supply of pork, stabilize increasing prices, and address the pressing issues on food security,” he said.

The apparent shortage of pork supply in the country prompted Duterte in February to approve the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) proposal to review the suggested increase in the country’s pork imports.

The President’s proposed hike in pork imports will be relayed to Congress for its consideration.

The increase in MAV will take effect, once lawmakers concur with Duterte’s recommendation.

On February 1, Duterte inked Executive Order 124, which implements a price cap of P270 per kg. for pork kasim and pigue, P300 per kg. for pork liempo, and P160 per kg. for dressed chicken until April 8.

The DA has also submitted to him a draft proclamation declaring a state of national emergency in the country to address the severe impact of African swine fever (ASF) on the hog industry.

In a memorandum dated March 17, Agriculture Secretary William Dar explained that the ASF has already spread to 12 regions, 40 provinces, 466 cities and municipalities, and 2,425 villages nationwide.

The declaration of a state of national emergency, Dar said, would “mandate and capacitate concerned government agencies, including the local government units, to work together to prevent and control the further spread of ASF.”

Duterte has yet to sign the draft proclamation.

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