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DA counters rice shortage claim, confirms supply for 45 days

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2018

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – There is no shortage of rice supply.

This was the assurance of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol amid speculations of supply shortage eventually causing price hike in rice.

Tumaas ang presyo ng bigas at ang mga traders naman in response doon sa pagtaas ng presyo ng bigas, nagpaligsahan sa pagbili ng what ever the available harvest there was,” the Secretary said.

Earlier today, Piñol met with rice industry stakeholders including farmers, dealers and retailers to confirm the true state of the country’s rice supply as well as the movement of rice prices in local markets at present.

Piñol said, though they assured that there is enough supply of rice in the country, the overall buffer stock, comprised of those stocked in households, those out in commercial markets and those inside the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA), is enough for nationwide consumption of only up to 45 days.

The Agriculture Secretary explained that there were delays in deliveries of imported rice because of port congestion and successive days of monsoon rain.

He noted that because of the speculations, the price of commercial rice shot up.

Meanwhile, rice millers assured that there is no hoarding of supply at this time.

 “Some millers from Central Luzon, ang supply nila nanggagaling sa amin. Pag bumili sila sa amin binibigyan namin sila ng palay para meron silang ma-mill dito sa Central Luzon. Iyon ang actual na nangyayari sa Isabela kaya there is no hoarding,” explained Ernesto Suvia of Golden Harvest Rice Mill.

For now, the DA said they trust the traders and millers that rice supply in the country is indeed enough.

However, the agency said they still have to validate if such state is true.

“But I told them that government reserves the right to validate. And validation would mean the inspection of their warehouses with warning that anybody caught hoarding rice will be prosecuted and the stocks will be confiscated,” Secretary Piñol warned.

Meanwhile, the DA is now contemplating on another importation of rice supply in preparation for the possible effects of el niño that is likely to occur in the last quarter of the year. – Rey Pelayo / Marje Pelayo

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Filipinos urged to buy local pork products amid fears of African Swine Fever

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2019

 

MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol appeals to the public to patronize local pork and pork-based products amid the dangers of African Swine Fever (ASF) that is currently affecting large pig farms not only in China but in other countries across the globe.

“The world hog industry is faced with a threat by a disease called the African Swine Fever,” the Secretary said on his social media account.

“I am appealing to consumers to buy pork and pork-based products produced by local farmers. This will be the first time I will make this appeal to Filipino consumers, meat importers, government policy makers and agriculture stakeholders because we are facing a grave danger which could destroy the Philippine livestock industry,” he added.

In August 2018, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has imposed a ban on the entry of pork and pork-based products from at least 13 countries:

  1. Belgium
  2. Bulgaria
  3. China
  4. Czec Republic
  5. Hungary
  6. Latvia
  7. Moldova
  8. Poland
  9. Romania
  10. Russia
  11. South Africa
  12. Ukraine
  13. Zambia

Secretary Piñol also asked returning residents and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), especially those from countries affected by the ASF “not to bring in pork or pork-based products including ham, bacon and others.”

On Friday (January 4), the Agriculture Secretary sacked the entire Quarantine team at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for not instituting his order to install footbaths due to procurement issues.

“Halimbawa nakapasok. Anong impact noon? Sisirain natin ang buong industriya simply because sasabihin mo sa akin na “Wala pa po kasi kaming procurement”. Napakadali namang gawin iyon na gaumawa ka lang ng basang sako diyan ilagay mo diyan sa (sahig) pwede na,” he argued.

According to www.pigprogess.net, a key source of information for pig and pork production industry in the world, ASF has so far infected one of the largest pig farms in China located in northern Heilongjiang province, a facility that houses 73,654 pigs.

Screenshot from Pig Progress website

The website explains that African Swine Fever virus is “one of the most important diseases of pigs and the identification of the disease in a country normally results in the suspension of exports of pigs and pig products.”

It is highly contagious and the infection spreads rapidly from pig to pig usually from infected discharges and feces as well as by the consumption of infected meat.

The disease is “extremely resistant to putrefaction and sunlight, and can persist in refrigerated meat and carcasses for up to 6 months and for much longer when frozen.”

The effect of the disease on human health is still unknown. – Marje Pelayo

 

 

 

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Quarantine group relieved for failure to institute protocol vs. African Swine Fever

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2019

 

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on his social media account announced that the entire Quarantine group at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will be relieved from their posts effective Friday (January 4).

Piñol said such order was made because of the group’s failure to comply with his earlier directive “to institute Quarantine protocols to prevent the entry of pork products from areas affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF).”

 

DA-BAI employees with their prepared disinfection mat before the disembarkation of passengers in Region 12 | Photo courtesy of Bureau of Animal Industry via Manny Piñol Facebook account

Secretary Piñol said he ordered “all Quarantine Stations to establish footbaths in all entry points of the country for the interception and confiscation of all pork-based products” because of the threat of ASF that was monitored by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as early as last year.

The Philippines, meanwhile, has already established a plan of action to prevent the entry of the disease into the country.

ASF is a viral disease that has been killing pigs in at least eight countries at present.

China has already reported an outbreak of the deadly disease as it has infested huge pig farms in the country.

Secretary Piñol added that he will also direct the Department of Agriculture (DA) Internal Administrative Service (IAS) “to conduct an investigation and establish whether the officers could be charged with dereliction of duty.”

 

DA-BAI employee showing his disinfection mat | Photo courtesy of Bureau of Animal Industry via Manny Piñol Facebook account

“The relief of the whole Quarantine Team at the NAIA should send a clear message to members of the Department of Agriculture (DA) family that we cannot take Administrative Directives for granted,” the Secretary said. – Marje Pelayo

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REPASO 2018: Rice, Inflation and Duterte’s TRAIN Law

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2018

 

The Philippines is among countries that highly depends on rice as its staple.

This year, issues surrounding the country’s rice supply and the National Food Authority (NFA) made headlines especially when supply of low-priced rice became scarce in local markets.

The NFA blamed the NFA Council for the shortage of NFA rice in markets citing its disapproval of rice importation despite the NFA’s recommendation in 2017.

While the NFA rice ran scarce, the price of commercial rice skyrocketed.

In Zamboanga, rice prices hit a staggering P70 per kilogram.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) blamed rice traders for manipulating market prices taking advantage of the scarcity of NFA rice.

But Secretary Manny Piñol said rice supply was not scarce.

It’s just that traders were controlling the supply.

In fact, the DA discovered thousands of sacks of rice in a warehouse in Bulacan supposedly delivered to local markets.

The issue prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to return the control over the NFA to the DA and appointed Sec. Piñol as chairman of the NFA Council.

Duterte ordered Piñol to fill the markets with commercial rice.

“The best way to address this problem is, I will fill my inventory. I was mad because it was either half full or half empty. Sabi ko guys, I want the rice up there, touching the ceiling of warehouse now,” President Duterte said.

In August, the delivery of five million sacks of rice imported by the NFA arrived in the country.

But the prolonged days of rain delayed the unloading of the rice shipment.

Reports surfaced that the rice shipment were infested by rice weevils and could be harmful for consumption.

But Sec. Piñol himself proved that weevil infestation was not enough reason to say that the shipments were no longer edible.

This sets this year “Bukbok challenge” among government officials and the Secretary himself ate weevil-infected cooked rice to challenge lawmakers criticizing the DA.

 

Amid speculations of health risks posed by weevils and alleged formalin contamination in galunggong, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol ate cooked weevil-infested rice together with fried galunggong  on live television to allay fears.

“Kanin na may bukbok, pwedeng kainin. I’m walking the talk, kapag sinabi kong kaya kong kainin yung bigas na may bukbok, hugasan lang natin, huwag nating kainin ‘yung bukbok,” Se. Piñol said showing on live television that eating weevil-infested rice is safe.

In November, the DA imposed a suggested retail price on commercial rice and banned the use of fancy brand names.

But the DA expressed concern on the impending approval of the proposed Rice Tarrification Act.

Piñol said the proposed law might remove the supply of NFA rice in markets because the measure will strip the NFA of its importation function and importation of rice will be open even to the private sector.

The NFA’s function will also be limited to buffer stocking and they will only be allowed to buy rice from the local farmers’ yield.

“But one thing is certain, there will be no more P27 rice,” Piñol argued.

But Senate Food and Agriculture Committee chair Senator Cynthia Villar countered Piñol’s statement saying the supply of low-priced rice will remain in local markets.

The price of fish and vegetables also hit significant increase this year due to a series of weather disturbances.

A notable increase was in the price of chili which reached to P1,000 per kilogram.

The DA argued, however,  that the country has enough supply of vegetables but the problem is how they will be delivered to the municipality in need.

In line with this, the DA launched the ‘Tienda Malasakit Stores’ which sell top quality agricultural products at the price almost 50% off.

Also, the DA imposed suggested retail price on several agriculture products to avoid profiteering.

Due to a series of price hikes, the country’s inflation rate shoots up.

Based on the report of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the country’s inflation reached the 3.5 mark in 2017 but soared even higher in October 2018 at 6.7.

This development burdened consumers even more.

“Kahit sa gulay dati makabili ka lang ng P10 marami na. sa ngayon konti nalang ang mabili mo kahit sa P10 halos wala ka nang makain sa sampung piso,” said Quezon City resident Sicel Amadeo.

“Minsan di nalang kami bumibili. Tsaga nalang kami sa bagoong… eto yan lang ho. Totoo po lahat. Tulad nyan walang trabaho minsan. Hindi ko na alam kung saan ako lalapit,” said Laura Bagan also a resident of Quezon City.

Among the reasons for the rising inflation, analysts said, was the increase in oil price in the world market.

This prompted a fare hike of minimum fare in jeepney to P10.00 in Metro Manila, Region 3 and other provinces.

But after a week, the minimum fare was reduced to P9.00 as a result of a slight oil price rollback.

Price cuts on oil products were recorded eight times in eight weeks from October to November but drivers and operators argued that these couldn’t surpass the total increase in oil prices this year.

Also among the main reasons for the rising inflation, consumers alleged, was the implementation of the Duterte administration’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law which the President signed on December 19, 2017.

The measure aims at funding the government’s ‘Build, build, build’ infrastructure projects through imposition of additional taxes.

During the last quarter of the year, the government’s economic managers recommended the implementation of the second tranche of the TRAIN law after the price of oil soared to P42/L.

But the recommendation was later withdrawn after a series of price rollback in oil which dipped by P12/L in total.

The second tranche of excise tax on oil will add P2.00 more per liter.

This prompted the consumer group ‘Laban Konsyumer’ to ask the Supreme Court to suspend the implementation to TRAIN 2 as it will further burden the consumers.

“Pinapabalewala namin ang batas na iyan, sa tingin po namin ito po’y anti-poor. Anti-poor kasi tinaasan ang excise taxes sa fuel at iba pang produkto tulad ng coal sa mga consumer o mga mahihirap na wala namang kakayahan magbayad ng mataas na buwis,” argued Laban Konsyumer Atty. Vic Dimagiba. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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