DA, NIA urged to prioritize recovery of typhoon-hit agri areas to address rising food costs

Robie de Guzman   •   January 26, 2021   •   463

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called on concerned government agencies to make “a big push” for the recovery of agriculture “food baskets” that were devastated by calamities last year to help address supply shortages and rising food costs in the country.

In a statement, Hontiveros pointed out that price control and monitoring measures are not enough to address spiking commodity prices.

“Hindi lang price control at monitoring ang mga paraan para maampat ang mabilis na pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin. Mas mabilis na bababa ang presyo ng gulay, prutas, karne at ibang pagkain kung agad matutulungan ng pamahalaan na mapuno ang mga “food baskets”. Kailangang maibalik sa normal ang kanilang productivity levels,” she said.

The senator said the government should particularly provide adequate shelter and food assistance to vital agricultural supply areas until the first harvests arrive in summer, particularly in areas like the Northern Luzon and the Bicol Region which were heavily affected by a spate of typhoons in 2020.

Citing data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Hontiveros noted that Cagayan Valley lost P2.1 billion worth of crops due to Typhoon Ulysses, along with P 5 billion damaged or destroyed infrastructure.

Likewise, the Bicol Region lost P629 million worth of crops and P2.3 billion in infrastructure, she added.

“Sinira ng mga bagyo ang mga pananim, mga alagang hayop at mismong kabahayan ng marami sa ating mga magsasaka at agricultural workers sa Northern Luzon at Bicol Region. Pinakamataas ang inflation levels sa mga lugar na iyan, ayon mismo sa Philippine Statistics Authority at marami ang walang kita at walang makain sa pangaraw-araw ngayon,” she said.

“Kailangan natin silang tulungan para sila ay muling agad makabalik sa pagtatanim, pagsasaka at pagaalaga ng mga hayop,” she added.

Hontiveros said that among the immediate actions which can be taken by the government, mostly the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), and local government units, is the repair of drainages and irrigation systems that were damaged during the floods, storms and mudflows.

The NIA, along with LGUs, should also immediately identify and develop ‘shovel-ready’ irrigation and farm repair projects which could be implemented at the soonest.

She suggested that workers for such projects be contracted via the ‘pakyaw’ system or the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) cash-for-work program which can enable the hiring of local residents, thus helping provide a livelihood to their communities.

Hontiveros likewise said that the NDRRMC can supplement the quick reaction funds (QRFs) of other agencies so greater funding may be devoted to the repair of irrigation systems, roads, and other agriculture infrastructure.

“Kailangan nating kumilos ng agaran at malakihan upang matulungan ang mga magsasaka na nagpapakain sa buong bansa. They are the key to ending this food crisis,” she said.

Phl hog industry needs P27-B to recover from impact of ASF — DA

Marje Pelayo   •   May 12, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking for fund sources to address the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF) on the country’s hog industry.

Specifically, the DA needs up to P27 billion for its hog recovery program, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

This year alone, the DA requires an additional P6.6 billion for the repopulation of hogs.

Since the ASF outbreak began in 2019, the country has already lost over three million heads of pigs, Dar noted.

The DA is expecting an amount from the Bayanihan 3 but since the government has declared a state of calamity due to ASF, the agency is expecting an additional source of funds for the program.

“Kung may resource kami na pwede naming i-realign ito po ay pwede nang gagawin dito po sa under the state of calamity,” Dar noted.

Secretary Dar said it would take about three years before the country achieves the average number of hogs as before and it will need an overall budget of P27 billion.

Also part of the hog recovery program is funding ASF test kits and the procurement of a potential vaccine against ASF that is currently under clinical trial. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Agriculture groups to boycott DA’s food security summit

Marje Pelayo   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  A number of agricultural groups are planning to boycott the upcoming food security summit to be conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) on May 18 and 19.

The groups said their concerns and recommendations have been repeatedly ignored that is why they decided not to attend the summit.

Among the policies they are opposed to is the importation of rice, chicken and more importantly pork with lower tariff.

“Ipipilit (lang) iyong ideology ng import liberalization. So bakit kami pupunta?” stressed United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) president Atty. Bong Inciong.

The Samahan ng Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG) also noted that their recommendation to have first border protection for testing of imported agricultural food products has yet to be established.

This, they say, is one way to prevent the entry of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country.

“Kaya bakit natin ibo-boycott itong food summit? Dahil nakikita natin eh walang direksyon para sa ating local producers,” noted Rosendo So, president of SINAG.

Hog raisers are also complaining about the unpaid indemnification of hogs affected by the ASF.

The group warned that this could result in another holiday.

“Ipinakikita natin sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon na tayo ay sawang-sawa na at malapit nang dumating sa tingin ko yung food holiday,” argued Nicanor Briones of ProPork.

Amid these complaints, Agriculture Secretary William Dar is encouraging them to participate in the summit so that they can properly air their side.

Dar noted the importance of everyone’s participation especially in a time of pandemic.

“There is now consciousness on the part of every Filipino na ang sektor ng agrikultura ay ganoon kahalaga during this time of health pandemic,” he said.

The Food Security Summit aims to construct policies that will help the country attain food sufficiency. (With reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA to release SRP on pork next week

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to release a new suggested retail price (SRP) on pork next week alongside the implementation of increased tariff.

“We will have a new SRP based on this EO that will set the new tariffs,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

The official added that consumers will surely benefit from the SRP and the supply of pork will be replenished through importation.

Dar added that this is just among the solutions of the government to address the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF) on the local hog industry.

Coinciding with this measure is the ingoing repopulation of hogs.

Meanwhile, the price of pork in major markets in Metro Manila remains at P340 to P400 per kilogram.

Based on the estimate of the Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA), they can still supply pork at P320 per kilogram retail price.

This is much lower than locally produced meat even after the government’s newly imposed tariff on pork.

“Ngayon pagtaas uli ng 5% siguro baka mga P315/kg or P320/kg. Baka dyan po babagsak ang bagong SRP,” said MITA president Jess Cham.

But for the group, Samahan ng Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG), the price of imported pork should drop further because the cost of importation is way cheaper.

The group argued that the government is losing about P13 billion on tariff thus it is just for consumers to enjoy lower price of pork meat.

“Iyong suggested retail price ng imported ay gawing P200 para at least ay pumunta doon sa consumer yung nawala na taripa,” said SINAG president Rosendo So said.

Currently, DA’s SRP on imported pork ranges from P270 per kilogram to P350 per kilogram. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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