AS IT STANDS | Roman Floresca
The country’s agriculture performance once again took a downturn in the first quarter this year as hog and poultry production went down anew. In a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the overall performance of the agriculture sector dipped by 3.3 percent in the first three months this year.
This, despite an excellent performance by the crops subsector. Based on the PSA’s report, the total value of crop production grew by 3.3 percent bannered by palay, which overshot last year’s output by 8.6 percent, and corn which overshadowed last year’s output by 6.5 percent.
Livestock production which had a 14.2 percent share of total output shrank by 23.2 percent. Hog and chicken production dropped by 25.8 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively.
Poultry, which accounted for 13.3 percent of total agricultural production, declined by 7.4 percent.
“We expected the poor performance of the hog industry as our efforts to control the African Swine Fever (ASF) and repopulate ASF-free areas are yet to bear fruits,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
To remedy the situation, the Department of Agriculture (DA) called for the signing on May 10, 2021 of Proclamation 1143, declaring a state of calamity throughout the country due to the ASF outbreak.
“We consider the Presidential Proclamation No. 1143 as the much-needed ‘shot-in-the-arm’ as it will allow local government units (LGUs) to set aside part of their local risk reduction and management fund or commonly known as calamity fund for quick response purposes, and to allocate for the prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, rehabilitation and recovery that may be brought by the ASF incidence in their respective areas, said Dar.
Aside from this, President Duterte has raised anew the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork imports. Executive Order (EO) 133, which was issued by the President on May 10, raised the MAV for pork meat to 404,21 tons from 54,210 tons.
In April, President Duterte signed EO 128, which reduces the tariff rates on imported pork to 5 percent to 20 percent from 30 percent to 40 percent for a year amid the negative effects of ASF on pork supply.
Dar has recommended that the tariff rates in EO 128 be adjusted to 10 percent in-quota and 20 percent for out-quota for the first three months; and 15 percent in-quota and 25 percent for out-quota for the remaining nine months.
Whatever it is, let’s hope that this crisis ends soon.