The Philippine government was told to stop the flooding of pork imports which has been negatively affecting the local hog sector.

During the ‘Halalan 2022 Para sa Agrikultura’ virtual forum hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Senator Francis Pangilinan and leaders of several agriculture lobby groups all agreed that the food importation regime should stop.

Pangilinan said the country “should only import when needed” and that “importation should be a last resort.”

“All countries have a way of standing up against [trade agreement pressures]. What has been happening is we choose to go blinded just following mandates. There are grey areas in trade agreements we can hold on to in order to defend our farmers,” he said.

Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines (Propork) President Edwin Chen said it is unfortunate that despite pleas from the local hog sector for a cessation on importation, the government has ruled against the local hog sector’s request.

PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto then said that the Safeguard Measures Act – which provides that importation should only happen in cases of extreme supply shortage – should be invoked as section 13 provides for the protection of local farmers.

For his part, Chester Tan, president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc., said the Philippine government should also help repopulate the local hog sector in order for the country not to depend on imports.

“But the DA [Department of Agriculture] is using the World Trade Organization [WTO] provision to import from different countries,” said Tan. “Our advocacy is to repopulate so we won’t have to depend on imports”.

The country’s hog output has been on a downtrend over the last two years due to the prevalence of African Swine Fever (ASF), a fatal animal disease among hogs.

Because of this, livestock, which accounted for 15.3 percent of the total agriculture and fisheries production, fell by 15.2 percent during the third quarter of this year. Hog output, in particular, decreased by 17.8 percent.

The government is addressing the situation through several measures. For the sector, a P4.1-billion fund has been approved for a massive hog re-population program, while it also encouraged the importation of cheaper, imported pork to ensure the supply.

To be specific, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) 134 earlier this year to lower both the in-quota and out-quota tariff for pork for a period of one year.

He also issued EO 133 raising the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) allocation for pork imports by 200,000 metric tons (MT), from its previous level of 54,210 MT.

MAV refers to the volume of a specific agricultural product that is allowed to be imported with a lower tariff as committed by the Philippines to the WTO.

Meanwhile, Pangilinan also committed to support the creation of the Philippine Corn Administration, which will take care of the welfare of corn farmers.

Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PMFI) President Roger V. Navarro said corn farmers have been orphaned after the passage of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

The National Food Authority (NFA) used to have a corn buying program but when RTL was ratified, the corn buying program was abolished as RTL just focused on rice, he pointed out. Navarro said the government’s aid to corn farmers should be in the form of post-harvest facilities.

This, as the absence of dryers and storage facilities cause many losses to farmers at harvest time when farmers are forced to sell their corn at low prices.

Source: Manila Bulletin (