PH targets 96% rice self-sufficiency by 2020

Marje Pelayo   •   April 8, 2019   •   1531

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing to achieve 96 per cent rice self-sufficiency in the country by the year 2020.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said the agency needs to make some adjustments to comply with the provisions of the newly enforced Rice Tariffication Law which has eased rice importation in the country.

According to Piñol, the country was able to reach about 19.28 million metric tons of palay production in 2017 or equivalent to 93% of its target.

This slowed down, however, in 2018 due to a number of tropical cyclones that affected the country’s agriculture.

This year, the agency projects an increase of more than 20 million metric tons in production. He added that if the succeeding harvests improve, the country will be able to reach its 96% rice self-sufficiency target in 2020.

By that time, Secretary Piñol said the agriculture sector will be able to fully benefit from the government’s financial assistance particularly from the P10B monthly subsidy under the Rice Competitiveness and Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

The government will also launch a fertilizer loan program for local farmers to avail.

“But the dramatic increase is expected in 2020 when we shall have implemented the RCEF (Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund) at saka na-implement natin itong national fertilizer support program [and the national fertilizer support program is implemented],” the Secretary assured.

Secretary Piñol explained, however, that the country still fell short of its target of 100% rice self-sufficiency because the government was not able to provide for its request of assistance for agriculture programs since the agency asked for them in 2016.

“We ask for a P50 billion budget over the next 3 years para suportahan ang rice industry (but) on the contrary ay nabawasan pa ang budget ng DA. So iyon talaga ang dahilan [We ask for a P50 billion budget over the next 3 years to support the rice industry but on the contrary DA’s budget was instead reduced. So that’s the main reason], he said.

Meanwhile, Secretary Piñol assured that the P27/kg rice of the National Food Authority (NFA) will remain available in local markets even after the agency’s stocks of imported rice have been consumed.

“Ganun pa rin ang magiging presyo P27 (per kilo) and iyon ang commitment ni Presidente [The price will remain at P27 per kilogram. That’s the commitment of our President] as part of his efforts to really make low-cost price available to the consumers,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

BOC Zamboanga seizes smuggled rice and cigarettes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 21, 2019

Boxes of smuggled cigarettes intercepted by the BOC along Pangutaran, Sulu and Isabela City, Basilan on August 19, 2019 | Courtesy: BOC Zamboanga

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Zamobanga has seized smuggled rice and cigarettes on Monday (Aug 19) along Pangutaran, Sulu and Isabela City, Basilan, respectively.

Preliminary reports said authorities found various sacks of rice inside ML Nhardzrmar-2 while it was docked in Baliwasan Seaside, Zamboanga City. Meanwhile, the smuggled cigarettes were intercepted aboard MV Trisha Kirstin-1 of Aleson Shipping Lines.

The seized goods were turned over to the BOC.

Meanwhile, District Collector of the Port of Zamboanga collector Segundo Sigmundfreud Barte has commended continued efforts to fight against smuggling particularly on agricultural products and other anti-social goods.

“The seizure of cigarettes should serve as a warning to smugglers and manufacturers of fake cigarettes,” according to BOC’s press release.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DA assures PH pork still safe for consumption

Marje Pelayo   •   August 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintains that pork items in local markets are still safe for consumption despite reports of sudden pig deaths in some areas in the country.

“We assure the public that the meat in the market today is safe (because) it’s sourced from areas (that) are not infected,” assured Noel Reyes, spokesperson of Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

The Department has already imposed a major disease protocol in the areas of concern though the DA has not yet named where the specific locations are and what have caused the pigs death.

In accordance with the protocol, all pigs within the 1 kilometer radius have already been culled while those within the 7 kilometer radius have been placed under control where entry and exit of pigs are prohibited.

Meanwhile, pig handlers within the 10 kilometer radius from the infected site are obliged to report immediately if there is pig mortality in their area.

Reyes said the DA suspected that the reported deaths of pigs could have been caused by ‘swill’ or food leftovers that’s why the DA advised all hog raisers to refrain from feeding their pigs with swill.

Reyes noted that hog raisers may have resorted to swill because it is cheaper.

The DA sais it may take up to two weeks to three months before the result of the confirmatory test on the infected pigs’ samples is released to determine what type of pig disease hit them.

The department assured that in the next bulletin, they will include details of assistance that affected hog raisers may avail to cope up with the problem. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DA confirms swine deaths despite no declaration of hog-related disease

Marje Pelayo   •   August 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is being careful when it comes to declaring what virus could have caused the latest infestation of pigs in the country.

According to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, he was informed about the swine deaths last Friday (August 16) but he refused to name the exact location.

He assured, however, that the government is on top of the situation and is working to address the issue.

“Kung ano ang suspected na may disease ay kina-cull-out, inaalis, binu-bury at dini-disinfect ang lugar (The pigs suspected of the disease are culled out, removed (from the herd), and buried; then the place is disinfected),” according to Secretary Dar.

The secretary wants to see the result of the confirmatory test first being done by foreign experts before declaring what type or kind of disease has caused the deaths of the pigs.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), likewise, said they cannot risk committing mistakes by making hasty conclusions like what happened to other countries.

“September 2018 ay nagkamatayan din ang mga baboy sa Japan at ito ay naging national issue, naging international issue (In September 2018, swine deaths were reported in Japan and it became a national issue and had gotten international),” explained BAI Director Ronie Domingo.

“(Ang) ginawa nila, ang kanilang laboratory procedures, diagnosed that it was hog cholera. Pero 75,000 na ang kanilang na-cull na baboy, (What they did, based on their laboratory procedures, was diagnose that it was hog cholera. But they have already culled 75,000 pigs,)” he noted.

The confirmatory test may take up to two weeks to three months.

The possibility of African Swine Fever (ASF) infestation surfaced when the Taiwan government beefed up its customs regulations by banning entry of pork products and checking of carry-on baggage of travelers from the Philippines.

The DA maintains that the Philippines remains ASF free and has banned entry of pork products from 19 ASF-infected countries. – MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)

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