DA Endeavors to Stabilize Meat Supply and Prices

MANILA - The Department of Agriculture (DA) has been taking concrete steps to stabilize the domestic supply and prices of chicken and pork amid the double whammy of escalating production costs and tightening global supplies, according to reports from top DA officials.
calendar icon 4 June 2008
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DA Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup said agriculture officials led by Secretary Arthur Yap have been "continuously in touch" with leaders of the livestock and poultry subsectors to monitor the domestic market situation and work out further intervention measures that might be needed to further boost domestic production and stabilize both supply and prices of these basic foodstuff.

Salacup said that regular and new productivity programs put in place by the various DA-attached agencies concerned on Yap's watch have assured the country—according to industry leaders themselves—of "at least 90% self-sufficiency" in pork and chicken, while importations would cover present or potential supply-demand gaps.

"In all of these endeavors, the DA is continuously in touch with leaders of livestock and poultry groups through partnership arrangements and regular dialogues on the concerns of sectoral leaders or on issues affecting these industries, and have been working with these people to meet the meat, poultry and egg requirements of Filipino consumers," Salacup said.

He said retail prices have inched up "mainly due to increased prices of feed ingredients of which a substantial portion are imported, such as soybean meal, bone meal, fishmeal, calcium and other minerals."

Citing official figures, Salacup said domestic production in the year's first quarter totaled (in live weight) 30,038 metric tons for cattle; 442,695 MT for hogs; and 338,482 MT for chicken.

Last year, he said, total cattle production reached 236,871 MT; hogs, 1,886,005 MT; and chicken, 1,211,623 MT.

Director Carlos Mendoza of the Livestock Development Council reported, meanwhile, that pork imports totaled 79,381 MT last year and another 7,268 MT over the January-March 2008 period while that of chicken totaled 45,075 MT last year and 4,325 MT more in the year's first quarter.

Beef imports totaled 58,334 MT in 2007 and 4,511 MT more in the three months to March 2008, he added, while buffalo imports reached 61,999 MT last year and another 6,394 MT in the past quarter.

Mendoza said that while pork supply is tight, "there is no shortage as increased demand is covered by existing inventory."

"Current efforts by the private sector to re-stock breeder gilts would further normalize pork production towards the end of the year and early next year," he said.

As for chicken supply, Mendoza noted that total production even grew by 4% during the first quarter of 2008.

Yap said that prospects for the hog and poultry industries are bright as the Philippines remain free of the avian influenza (AI) or bird flu, and the continuous disease control and eradication programs of the Bureau of Animal Industry have boosted chances for the whole Philippines to be declared totally free from the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) by the Animal Health Organization or OIE by the end of 2008 or early 2009.

Surveillance, vaccination, quarantine and treatment programs to fight cholera, Newcastle, fowl pox and other hog and chicken diseases are also being stepped up by the DA on its own or in partnership with local government units (LGUs), he added.

For cattle, the DA has been undertaking, among others, programs on breeder stock infusion and genetic improvement as well as land tenure and pasture lease negotiations, Salacup said.

Moreover, the DA has a slew of initiatives like the pork-in-a-box project that are meant to provide consumers with greater access to quality but affordable beef, chicken and pork products, he added.

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