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Cold storage facilities vs ASF, COVID to be put up in 3 provinces

COLD storage warehouses complete with meat-cutting facilities will be put up in four areas located in three provinces to help the country’s hog and poultry sub-sectors recover from the adverse effect of the African Swine Fever (ASF) and economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that P280-million worth facilities will be put up in Pampanga, Tanauan and San Jose in Batangas, and in Malagos, Davao del Sur.

Dar explained the country’s livestock and poultry sub-sectors are among the drivers of local rural economies, contributing to livelihood and employment, and generating income for poor farm households.

Efficient management and delivery of food crops, fruits and vegetables, fishery, livestock and poultry products are imperative and critical, in response to the country’s food security requirements. Hence, now more than ever, we should put premium on the establishment of modern storage, processing and logistics facilities to attain a globally-competitive food value chain system,” Dar said.

The four DA-National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS)-funded cold storage areas will be complemented with meat-cutting facilities to allow further value-adding that will enhance farmers’ incomes as these can produce “choice meat cuts” to supply the growing market.

Dar added these facilities are expected to contribute to local production of mechanically-deboned meat (MDM) that comprises the bulk of raw materials used in the food processing sector.

He said the DA-NMIS will partner with hog farmers and poultry raisers, industry stakeholders, respective local government units, and the academe in Pampanga, Batangas and Davao to put up, operate and maintain the cold storage and meat-cutting facilities.

NMIS director Reildrin Morales said negotiations are ongoing with identified stakeholders.

Morales added the facilities will provide services to meat processing industries, serve as avenues for research and learning, and help enhance the government’s meat industry regulatory functions.

Funding for the facilities comes from appropriations under Republic Act No. 11494, also known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2,” where the DA was granted a supplemental P24-billion budget to help address the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the agri-fishery sector.

The DA is implementing a food logistics plan as part of its national Plant, Plant, Plant program to revive, grow and reboot the country’s agriculture and fishery sector amid the ongoing health crisis.

We believe the initiatives of the Duterte administration will help reinvigorate the Philippine countryside after surmounting the COVID-19 pandemic, by increasing food production and establishment of postharvest, storage and logistics systems,” Dar said.