July 21, 2022

Agribusinesses want Philippine government to hike corn imports to control pork, chicken prices


Agribusiness stakeholders in the Philippines are urging the government to hike the country's corn imports in order to make up for the shortage in local supply and temper the increase in prices of pork and chicken.


In a statement, industry stakeholders said bringing in additional supplies of corn, a primary feed component, could help bring down prices of pork and chicken. They said that higher corn prices increase the cost of poultry production, where feed costs as much as 70% of the cost of raising a chicken.


American Chamber of Commerce agribusiness committee chairman Christopher Ilagan said that the "minimum access volume (MAV) should be expanded from the current 217,000 metric tonnes to a level more in line with the actual deficit in the country today, which is closer to three to four million tonnes."


He added: "Considering half a year has already gone, the administration may consider even a two million tonnes MAV so that the 5% tariff rate would apply and our local buyers can buy competitively from the global market."


Corn tariffs have been reduced to 5% for in-quota volume and 15% for out-quota volume.


For its part, the Philippine Association of Feed Millers, Inc. (PAFMI) agreed that expanding the MAV would give the feed industry enough flexibility to produce the country's requirements for the second semester.


PAFMI also asked Philippine President Bongbong Marcos, who is also the concurrent Agriculture Secretary, to prioritise end-users in the allocation of imported feed corn under the MAV Plus in order to reach feed millers and mixers in a shorter time.


"Prioritising end-users in the allocation of corn under the MAV Plus will shorten the process distribution and help temper the rise in prices," PAFMI said.


Last year, corn production totaled six million tonnes, falling short of total demand of more than nine million tonnes.


Meanwhile, Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. (BAVI) said liberalising the corn industry, just like rice, is the solution. "Corn tariffication like rice is the immediate solution," BAVI president and general manager Ronald Mascariñas said.


Over the long term, Mascariñas added there is a need to help corn farmers improve productivity by subsidising hybrid seeds and fertilisers.


Mascariñas said that the higher productivity of corn farms would stabilise prices and eventually benefit livestock and poultry producers.


Ilagan is hoping that lawmakers will pass the Livestock Industry Development and Competitiveness Bill, which seeks to rationalise the DA organisation along the lines of the corn-livestock-poultry value chain.


The proposed measure also aims to establish a Competitiveness Enhancement Fund for the livestock, poultry, and corn sectors.


"This will hopefully allocate much needed funds to help develop and improve the competitiveness of these sectors, while also earmarking tariff collections on these imported commodities for the development of these specific sectors – often neglected in favor of what has been a rice-centric agriculture policy," Ilagan said.


"It will also help rationalise the tariff levels that balances continued accessibility and affordability of these globally traded commodities while at the same time providing an environment that will enhance the competitiveness of these local commodity sectors."

 — GMA News

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