Long-term reforms in livestock sector pushed
Economists and industry leaders on Friday urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus on long-term reforms in the livestock industry to quell the expensive prices of meat in the market as the African swine fever (ASF) continued to decimate the local hog population and pork supply.
Failure to do so may continue to put pressure on the country’s inflation rate, which further rose to 4.7 percent in February from a year ago mainly caused by pricier food items.
Experts who talked to the Inquirer said the government’s imposition of a 60-day price freeze on chicken and poultry as well as the provision of transport subsidies to hog traders and dealers bringing live hogs and meat to Metro Manila would not cool pork prices just yet.
Ramon Clarete, dean of the University of the Philippines’ School of Economics, earlier warned that price caps as well as repositioning pork supply would lead to a “zero-sum game” as lower pork prices in Metro Manila would mean higher prices in places where the pork was sourced.
“Forcing supply out of the Visayas and Mindanao to go to Luzon may help consumers in Manila, but there would be a compromise on the part of consumers from Visayas and Mindanao,” he explained.
Local governments have been issuing their own variations of ordinances limiting the shipment of pigs and pork outside their jurisdictions to secure their own supplies.
In Romblon and Marinduque, officials temporarily banned the transport of hogs outside their island provinces.
“Nationwide shortages in pork supply is the real concern here and will continue to put pressure on overall inflation until authorities are able to augment supply for all markets that face shortages,” ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa said.
“[T]he only way to fix a supply issue is to augment supply. Rate hikes, price caps and moving stock around will likely do more harm than good,” he added.
Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, the Federation of Free Farmers and the Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. continued to bang on the DA’s doors to fast-track the construction of the first border control facility in the country.
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