THE Department of Agriculture in Central Visayas (DA 7) is set to ask local hog raisers and traders to increase their shipments to Luzon, especially Metro Manila, in a bid to stabilize market supply and prices there.
DA 7 Regional Director Salvador Diputado said Agriculture Secretary William Dar directed him on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, to coordinate with the local growers and traders.
“He instructed us to canvass and talk to pig raisers and traders in our region so we can facilitate more hogs and pork to be marketed in Luzon, specifically Metro Manila. That’s high priority,” Diputado told SunStar Cebu.
He said he hoped to sit down with the local producers and traders within the week.
The target is to increase live hogs shipments to Luzon to 5,000 per week until November 2020, or until the supply situation in Luzon stabilizes.
Paul Holaysan, president of the Central Visayas Pork Producers Cooperative (Cevippco), said they were willing to ramp up shipments to Luzon to 5,000 heads per week from the current weekly volume of 1,000 to 2,000 heads.
However, Holaysan reiterated his concern over logistics and the risk of contamination as Luzon has not seen the end yet to the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.
“The challenges would be shipping to Luzon since we are chartering (a) boat to ship pigs and their turnaround time is three days,” he said.
“Also, trucking by land is available but very risky. We don’t want any of the vessels or trucks to bring back ASF,” he added.
Diputado said measures against ASF contamination will be strictly implemented.
Prices of pork in Luzon have increased and inventory has declined because hog producers there are worried over possible new ASF cases.
The outbreak hit raisers in Central Luzon and Calabarzon, the top two hog producing regions in the country.
In Central Visayas, Diputado said there is an oversupply of hogs because of the low demand amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Diputado said major celebrations like fiestas in the provinces have been put off because of the pandemic.
In a previous interview, Holaysan traced the oversupply to the low demand from hotels, restaurants and schools, which were temporarily shuttered during the lockdowns.
The DA chief has ordered an investigation into the high prices of pork products in the market.
In a statement, Dar said the DA will not hesitate to file cartel charges if hog growers and traders were found to be engaged in anti-competitive practices by restricting the supply of pork products, resulting in higher prices.
The DA said there is a significant inventory of both locally slaughtered and imported pork in cold storage facilities accredited by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
As of the third week of October 2020, the inventory of frozen pork, both local and imported, in NMIS-accredited cold storage facilities nationwide reached 38,216 metric tons, 55 percent higher than the inventory in the same period in 2019.
As of October 21, prices of pork ham (kasim) in Metro Manila public markets reached P320 per kilogram (kg.) while pork belly (liempo) is sold at P360 per kg., P20 to P40 higher than their prices two weeks ago.
Dar said they were also looking into inefficiencies in the supply chain that may have caused prices to increase. (JOB)