DA: 2.5% agri growth achievable

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    Urban farming. Dar harvests fresh vegetables from a technology demonstration site in Quezon City on June 2020 showcasing replicable technologies and practices in urban agriculture. (DA photo)

    The Department of Agriculture (DA) remains optimistic about achieving a 2.5-percent growth in farm output this year but said the African swine fever (ASF) and prices will remain key issues.

    “Despite the tumultuous 2020, the agri sector only dipped by 0.2 percent and now as we intensify our efforts, coupled with the economy gradually opening up — which means easing of whatever supply chain restrictions that remain — a 2.5 percent growth this year is not too far from the horizon,” said DA Secretary William Dar at the Asia CEO Forum yesterday.

    Dar said aside from the provision of transportation subsidies to hog raisers who bring in pork and live pigs to Metro Manila, the DA has doubled to P10,000 per head the indemnification for backyard-raised hogs culled in ASF-stricken areas .

    Dar said the DA hopes to encourage backyard and semi-commercial raisers go back to the business.

    At a press conference in Malacanang, , presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Duterte is set to sign a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in areas affected by the ASF, which will effectively open more funding support for the hog industry.

    Roque said included in the proclamation is the establishment of a P1-billion contingency fund for the indemnification and repopulation of areas affected by the ASF and the authority to realign and refocus the current DA budget for ASF concerns.

    Roque said the DA which endorsed the declaration of a state of emergency, prepared the draft proclamation which Malacanang is waiting for.

    At the forum, Dar said “Philippine food security in brief could be characterized as a challenging year again for the Philippines… The country is still a food importing country because we don’t produce yet much of our requirements.”

    Data from the Bureau of Animal Industry showed there are f 97 licensed companies allowed to bring in pork under minimum access volume , but the actual shipments are less than the volume covered by issued sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) import clearances.

    As of end-February, only 233,635 kg. of pork bellies arrived or almost 4 percent out of the 6.9 million kg issued SPS. For the same period, only 344,834 kg of pork cuts arrived or just 0.6 percent of the 56.46 million kg SPS issued.

    For pork offals, only 49,996 kg arrived or 0.18 percent out of the 28.3 million applied SPS.

    As of end-January, projected pork production for the year is projected at almost 2 million metric tons (MT) compared to a demand of 1.62 million MT.

    Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed the country’ sswine inventory dropped by 24.1 percent this year to 9.7 million heads from the previous 12.8 million heads.

    Meanwhile at the Malacanang press conference, Roque said the proclamation also includes the instructions to local government units to allocate part of their budget for ASF-related activities and actively participate in efforts to combat ASF and start the repopulation program. -J. Macapagal and J. Montemayor