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House probe on rising price of pork sought

/ 03:30 PM January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An inquiry on the rising prices of pork in the market is being pushed in the House of Representatives as pork prices reach around P400 per kilo.

Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo filed Wednesday a resolution directing the House committee on agriculture to conduct the said inquiry. The committee is likewise directed to evaluate the effectiveness of the current measures taken by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other pertinent agencies to curb and resolve the crisis hounding hog-raising and trading of pork.

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“In December 2020, the year-on-year inflation rate for meat rose to 9.95 percent from 8.15 percent in November 2020, and by January 2021, it has been reported that retail pork prices have increased by as much as 55 percent from the same time last year, where the price for a kilogram of pork has reached as much as P400,” Quimbo said in the resolution.

According to Quimbo, one of the possible reasons behind the high prices of pork are anti-competitive practices such as “collusion among traders which could keep wholesale and retail pork prices high while keeping hog farmgate prices low.”

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Earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the country is now under a state of calamity due to high prices of goods such as pork, chicken, vegetables, and fruit.

Dar cited the persistence of African swine fever (ASF) in farms, the typhoons that devastated crops, and the alleged price manipulation among traders and re-sellers as possible reasons behind the soaring prices of the goods.

DA has likewise recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the implementation of a price freeze.

However, Quimbo said imposing price ceilings on pork products in the midst of a shortage “will only further disincentivize suppliers that are already struggling from the challenges imposed by recent calamities.”

“A more effective solution to facilitate fair prices to suppliers and consumers is to aggressively control the outbreak of ASF among farm animals and to encourage investments in the industry in order to improve pork supply in the long term,” Quimbo said.

“Pork suppliers have urged for improved enforcement against the smuggling of pork, particularly as smuggled pork has been found to be infected with ASF, and continued smuggling poses the continued risk of exposure for domestic supply,” the lawmaker added.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) has asked Duterte to remove duties imposed on imported pork to immediately cover a meat shortage in the country and lower prices.

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In a press briefing on Wednesday, Quimbo said that while this helps ease the burden on consumers and downstream firms, this policy may hurt hog raisers as they face tougher competition from imported meat.

“Kung sakali man, kelangan ng dagdag suporta mula sa gobyerno para tuluyan nang maiwasan ang ASF at para tumaas ang productivity levels ng hog raisers,” Quimbo said.

(If ever, what is needed is additional support from the government to avoid ASF and increase productivity levels of hog raisers.)

JE
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TAGS: ASF, pork prices
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