El Niño damage to agriculture hits P8-B

Marje Pelayo   •   April 26, 2019   •   1712

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) latest data showed damage and losses from the persistent weak El Niño to have reached P7.96 billion.

This covers damage in 277,890 hectares of agricultural areas that has affected 247,610 farmers and fisherfolks.

Crops that suffered the most damage were rice (with volume loss recorded at 191,761MT or P4.04B) and corn (with volume loss at 254,766MT or P3.89B).

The affected regions include Cordilleras, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

But according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, the said amount of damage is only less than one percent of the 20-million MT expected production of palay this year and 3% of the 8.64-million MT target in corn production.

“Ang El Niño less than 1% ang damage to our rice crops. That’s why this year, we are still projecting that we will harvest a record harvest of 20-million metric tons. That will be the highest target,” Piñol said during an interview in the program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon on Friday (April 26).

Cloud seeding operations are now ongoing in drought-affected areas. – Marje Pelayo (with details 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)

DA creates team for ivermectin trials vs. ASF

Marje Pelayo   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has created a research team to study the efficacy of ivermectin and other products against African swine fever (ASF).

The Special Order No. 310 was signed by Agriculture Secretary William Dar on April 30 ordering the formation of a research team for ASF control and prevention.

The research team is responsible for preparing proposals on the use of Ivermectin as an ASF booster specifically to look into the “use of ivermectin, ASF Buster, Cloud Feed, and other potential products for the control and prevention of ASF.”

The team will also conduct preliminary field trials of ivermectin and other agents to “produce science-based evidence in support to control and prevention programs of ASF, and formulate and draft science-based policies for the national guidelines in using ivermectin and other agents in the control and prevention programs of ASF.”

The research team is also expected to “collaborate with international research institutions to conduct experiments to support claims in the use of ivermectin and other agents.”

Ivermectin is a popular veterinary drug that has made headlines these days as many believe it is effective to prevent or treat COVID-19.

However, the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration warned over its prescription as the latter has yet to approve human-grade ivermectin in the country.

Under existing laws, ivermectin can only be prescribed to animals.

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