SENATORIAL bet and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos has urged the Department of Agriculture to arrest the over-importation of pork and chicken meat, saying this is hurting the local industry, particularly the backyard raisers who have been selling their produce at cost or at a loss just to recover their investment.
“Parang may famine sa Pilipinas, knock on wood, sa dami ng imports,” she said. “Hindi naman tag-gutom dito sa atin para mag-panic buying at mag-angkat ng sangkatutak na manok at baboy.”
“We should suspend importation to give our local and backyard raisers breathing space to recover their losses. There’s already an oversupply of pork and chicken,” Marcos said, as she lamented not only the over importation but also the rampant smuggling of agricultural products to the detriment of the local growers and farmers.
“Are we going to accept this as a national policy? Bagsak ang presyo ng karneng baboy at manok. This is affecting our backyard raisers which comprise 65 percent of the total industry,” she added.
According to Rosendo So, chairman of the umbrella group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, the government must put in place safeguards to ensure that the local meat industry does not die.
Backing the call of Marcos for suspension of importation of meat and vegetables, So noted that in 2016, chicken importation stood at 232 million kilos. The number went up to 244 million kilos in 2017, and rose by almost 30 percent to 310 million kilos last year.
Imported pork, on the other hand, totaled 275 million kilos in 2016. The volume increased to 305 million kilos in 2017 and to 387 million kilos in 2018.
“Our backyard raisers are selling at cost, and sometimes even at a loss. Some have been selling chicken at P50 per kilo when their investment is P70 per kilo,” So said.
Aside from over-importation, Marcos likewise called on the Bureau of Customs and DA to remain vigilant against the entry of imported meat from countries with incidence of African swine fever.
“Customs agents must look out for the possible entry of meat products from countries affected by the African swine fever. These products pose serious health hazards to our people and can potentially hurt our local meat industry further,” said Marcos.
African swine fever alerts have been raised in 13 countries, namely China, Hungary, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa and Zambia.
Marcos also exhorted the DA and the BoC to intensify their campaign against large-scale smuggling of agricultural products, which has already been declared as economic sabotage under Republic Act 10845, or the “Act Declaring Large-Scale Agricultural Smuggling as Economic Sabotage.”
“Rampant large-scale smuggling of agricultural products robs our local growers and farmers of their incomes. Smuggling or illicit trade of agricultural products is a major constraint to economic growth, and it affects job creation in rural areas, where majority of our poor Filipinos reside,” Marcos stressed.
“The government should fully implement RA 10845 to protect our farmers and local industries from unscrupulous traders and economic saboteurs engaged in large-scale smuggling of agri products,” she said.