Agri policy changes pushed

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    The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) urged government to implement policy changes in key agricultural subsectors reduce reliance on imports while addressing local and export demand.

    Roberto Amores, PCCI agriculture committee chairman, said at an online forum hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute the fishery, banana, dairy, poultry, hog and rice sectors need immediate intervention.

    Amores said to improve catch, it is time to lift the ban on the use of modified Danish seine method in fishing as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has determined it to be a non-destructive way of fishing.

    He lamented the fact that the country is dependent on imported mackerel, galunggong and bonita.

    Banana growers, Amores said, should consider the inter-cropping of Cavendish with saba variety to meet growing for frozen banana and banana chips.

    Amores is pushing for the importation of 10,000 heads of hybrid dairy animals for distribution to farmers and cooperatives to boost the dairy industry. The country imports 2.96 million metric tons (MT) of milk for its requirements as local sources can only provide 24,000 MT.

    Amores also urged government to calibrate importation of chicken so as not to compete unfairly with local production.

    Amores supports the importation of pork from sources that are free from the African swine fever (ASF) to balance supply and stabilize prices since local production cannot meet the demand in Luzon.

    He said hog raisers may temporarily shift to dairy production, rabbit raising or growing of high value crops while ASF remains a threat.

    For the rice sector, Amores bats for more stringent measures in implementing sanitary and phytosanitary measures to ensure only high quality imports enter the country.

    Amores also called on the government to resolve current market issues including the export of shallot onions to Indonesia; export of young coconut to Taiwan; and the export of fresh okra and other vegetables to South Korea.

    He also advocated for more priority on products like mango, cacao, saba banana, ube and young coconut. -J. Macapagal