Shrimp sector bats for stricter guidelines

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    Agricultural advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan (TK) said it is not against the importation of shrimps despite sufficient local production as the country is also a strong exporter of the product.

    But TK urged the government to ramp up food safety protocols so the Philippines will not become a dumping ground of products rejected by other countries.

    Asis Perez, TK convenor, said in a virtual briefing yesterday, the country exports 12 to 15 percent of local shrimp production yearly to markets in Japan, South Korea, Europe and the US.

    “Even if we produce more than enough, we still import shrimps… We at TK understand very well the need to provide these requirements by importation to support our processors.

    They will buy raw materials from abroad, process them here then ship them out again,” he explained.

    Perez said in 2015 to 2017 and in 2019, local shrimp production had exceeded local demand. In 2019, production was at 66,251.24 metric tons or a 103.19 -percent sufficiency level.

    He said local shrimp producers want an equal level of playing field in terms of food safety guidelines especially for on-site inspections, labelling standards and laboratory tests.

    At the briefing, Norberto Chingcuangco, co-convenor of TK and vice president for planning of integrated aquaculture firm Feedmix Group, said exporters need to comply with a long list of tests and inspections to ensure absence of cadmium, lead, e-coli and salmonella.

    These tests cost $200 to $500 dollars per container.