Senators score DA over ‘out of range’ projection of pork supply deficit
MANILA, Philippines — Some senators on Monday scored the Department of Agriculture (DA) for its “out of range” projection of the country’s pork supply deficit for 2021, which led to its recommendation to lower tariffs on imported pork and to increase the allowed volume of imports to the country.
During the Senate investigation into the food security crisis brought about by the African swine fever (ASF), Senator Cynthia Villar lamented the recommendation of the DA to President Rodrigo Duterte to increase the minimum access volume (MAV) by 350,000 metric tons on top of the current 54,210 MT.
“Hindi ko talaga maintindihan yung computation niyong yun. Sobrang out of range. Out of range na hindi kayo naawa sa ating mga backyard farmers? Sixty-five percent are hog raisers, they are the poor farmers of the Philippines. Kawawa naman sila,” Villar lamented.
(I can’t understand your computation. It’s so out of range. Totally out of range. Don’t you pity our backyard farmers? Sixty-five percent are hog raisers, they are the poor farmers of the Philippines. They are at the losing end here.)
“How can you project that way? Sino bang nag-project sayo? Pagalitan mo yung nag-project sayo. Mali yun [Who made that projection? You should score the one who made the projection. It’s wrong],” she added.
The senator, chairman of the Senate agriculture committee, pointed out that data from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) showed that in the last 10 years, the highest volume of imported pork meat was at 120,000 metric tons (MT) in 2018.
This was reduced to 96,000 MT in 2019 and to 92,000 in 2020. She noted that these importation records from the BOC reflect the demand of Filipinos for pork meat.
“Kasi ang importation na yan, depende sa demand yan. Bumababa nga e. Mataas pa nga nung 2018. Bumaba pa nung 2020, tapos sasabihin mo 400,000? That’s out of range,” she added.
(That’s importation, that’s dependent on the demand. It dropped. The highest was in 2018 and it decreased in 2020, then you would recommend 400,000? That’s out of range.)
Even with the projected 25-percent reduction in local pork meat production in the Philippines due to the ASF outbreak, Villar said the projected demand would still be far from the DA’s recommended MAV increase.
“The worst you can ever do is increase it by 25 percent which is 150,000 MT, not 400,000 MT,” she added.
In trying to defend the DA’s recommendation, Agriculture Secretary William Dar cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that the demand for pork in the country is 15 kilograms per person.
“Ang total demand ng Pilipinas ay [The total demand in the Philippines is] 1.6 million MT,” he said.
According to Dar, the deficit of pork supply this year is projected to be 388,563 MT with the local production of meat seen at 1.22 million MT as opposed to the demand of 1.6 million.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, however, interjected and pointed out that there are also a lot of Filipinos who do not eat pork.
“Maraming Muslim na ‘di kumakain ng pork…Six million sila [There’s a lot of Muslims who do not eat pork…There’s six million of them],” Sotto said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also questioned DA’s projection.
“Ang mga senador po ay nababahala na dahilan po sa malaking importasyon e masisira ang buong hog industry,” Drilon told Dar.
(Senators are alarmed because massive importation will ruin the whole hog industry.)
“Mukhang sobra-sobra. Tama po yung sinasabi ni Sen. Villar. Hindi naman dapat ganun kalaki ang dapat ang importation natin, from history, at the most as Sen. Villar said it is 150,000 MT. You are recommending more than double,” he added.
(This seems excessive. Sen. Villar is right. Our importation should not be this big, from history, at the most as Sen. Villar said it is 150,000 MT. You are recommending more than double.)
The President last week signed Executive Order No. 128 temporarily reducing tariffs on pork imports in a bid to resolve the country’s undersupply of pork.
Aside from this, the President also recently recommended, in a letter to Congress, an increase in MAV by 350,000 MT in addition to the current 54,210.
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