TO STABILIZE PRICES: DA to import more pork at low tariff

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    Hard-hit. Thousands of backyard hog raisers have incurred huge losses due to the ASF. (DA photo)

    The Department of Agriculture (DA) is considering to triple the minimum access volume (MAV) of pork imports this year to help stabilize prices.

    At yesterday’s Laging Handa briefing, DA Secretary William Dar said regular MAV imports is placed at 54,000 metric tons (MT).

    Pork shipment under MAV are only charged with 30 percent tariff while those outside the program are slapped with 40 percent.  The 54,000 MT of pork under MAV is equivalent to 21 percent of total pork imports based on last year’s numbers.

    Dar said this is also a temporary solution to the supply crunch of pork caused by the African swine fever (ASF).

    “We have allotted P400 million for the repopulation of the hog industry and that (has been) prepared for this month,” Dar said.

    Dar said the DA is fast tracking the shipment of 54,000 MT of pork under MAV that should arrive as early as February or March. On top of that, we are still mobilizing pork and pork products from the green zones of Visayas and Mindanao and Luzon as well,” Dar said.
    According to data from the Bureau of Animal Industry, the total number of pork shipments last year totalled to 256,017,459 MT including MAV shipments.

    Containing spread of ASF

    The DA said the agency will ensure the first case of ASF in Visayas recorded in Abuyog, Leyte will be contained in the area.

    “We have to see to it there are personnel in quarantine checkpoints in Leyte. We will call the regional director to see to it that he is in the ground zero. We don’t want this to spread and we want to contain this…” Dar said.

    DA said at present, there are 2,230 barangays in 415 cities and municipalities in 37 provinces in 11 regions that are affected by the ASF with over 431,000 hogs culled due to the disease.

    Overpriced veggies

    Dar said the DA is readying the filing of charges against unscrupulous traders who raise the prices of vegetables especially in urban areas like Metro Manila.

    “We are conducting economic intelligence to ready charges against traders who are unscrupulous or profiteers,” Dar said.

    He assured enough supply of vegetables and fruits in the provinces but some traders who buy them from Bagsakan Centers jack up their prices when they sell them to retailers in wet or public markets.

    “There should be more supply this January and February , so the prices should go down but there are traders who will be charged for being unscrupulous, for profiteering. They will feel the full force of government,” he added. (with Jocelyn Montemayor)