August 16, 2022
Philippine pork, chicken producers urge balance between local production and imports
Pork and chicken producers in the Philippines are calling on the government to strike a balance between boosting domestic production and filling in the supply gaps through importation to ensure that agriculture stakeholders won't be disadvantaged.
In a statement, industry stakeholders said the key is to drive down the cost of inputs to make local producers competitive. Chris Ilagan of American Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee Chairman said that "the higher feed costs lately may have also impacted profitability at the farm level, which may have affected decisions of some broiler growers to lower production levels."
National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. president Chester Tan said: "In our meeting with (Philippine) President (Ferdinand) Marcos Jr., we agreed to organise a working group with the Department of Agriculture and private stakeholders to meet monthly to discuss demand and supply figures and find the gaps that may be filled in with importation.
"Certainly, our group will not oppose importation but it must be a reasonable quantity that will allow farmers to still earn and encourage them to produce more. Food security and food self-sufficiency is a common goal for all of us."
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) said bringing down tariffs and increasing the import volume for various commodities should pull down prices and slow down inflation.
PRRM president Edicio dela Torre, however, said there has not been any significant reduction of prices, despite the increased imports in the past months.
"I think it is fair to ask if more of the same policies will deliver different results," Dela Torre said. "The policy bias is in favor of importers and consumers, although government officials pay lip service to the strategic importance of supporting domestic production and domestic food systems."
Dela Torre maintained that reducing tariffs also reduces government resources that are to be used to support domestic producers and mitigate the negative impact of imports on them.
According to Tan, local livestock producers are less confident to produce more. "They fear that our economic team will give priority to imported products over local produce or maybe give more support to importers than supporting the local farmers to produce more," he said. "In short, local stakeholders need security and assurance. We need safeguards, that after we produce any agricultural products, it should not coincide with importation. If it's the season of shortage, we will not argue."
Tan added that many products are not being sold when there is an oversupply of any commodity.
However, dela Torre did not dismiss the fact that imports are necessary in the short term, but policies should be based on reliable and timely data and projections of domestic supply and prices vis-à-vis global supply and prices.
"Also, instead of a one size fits all policy, the government should look into specific commodities and systems since it needs appropriate policies for production and imports of commodities," he added.
Dela Torre emphasised that the long-term solution is a combination of policies and public investments for increasing domestic production and supporting integrated food value chains. He said the support and incentives to producers must be accompanied by education campaigns for consumers to appreciate the advantages of domestic food sources, especially in food safety.
— GMA News