by DAWN CECILIA PEÑA
MANILA — The planned increase in pork imports to supposedly address the crisis brought by the African swine fever will bring death to the already dying industry, a farmers’ group said.
“Over importation will seal the coffin of the dying domestic hog industry that has registered more than P56-billion ($1.15 billion) in losses since ASF struck. Malacañang must stop using food security and pork supply stabilization as excuses to implement excessive pork importation,” said Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Chairperson Rafael Mariano.
From the current 54,210 metric tons of product required to be imported with a lower tariff, Congress approved to increase it to 404,210 metric tons – a staggering 645 percent hike. Pork prices, meanwhile, increased at an average of $0.30 to $0.80 per kilo, with a selling price of almost $8 per kilo in local markets following the Holy Week. This despite a price ceiling in place.
Instead of increasing pork imports, the former lawmaker said the “Congress must earmark at least P5-billion ($102.9 million) for the rehabilitation of the local hog and chicken industries.”
Mariano said that the increase in pork imports will only benefit established traders and importers. He instead called for economic relief for local hog raisers and a P15,000 ($308) production subsidy for farmers and food producers.