Mindanao eyes pork shipment for OFWs in Dubai

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/15 January) – Cut pork meat products from Mindanao may soon become an export commodity in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to serve the palates of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) there, a regional Department of Agriculture official said.

Evelyn Jaruda, feeds and veterinary drugs control officer of the DA in Region 12, said that Dubai City was initially identified as the shipment destination of “pork-in-a-box” products.

“There is huge demand for pork products not only from OFWs but also from other nationalities like the Indians,” she told reporters here last week.

Dubai is an open city and it could be used as a distribution center towards the other neighboring states in the UAE, she added.

A hog raisers industry dialogue has been conducted early this month in South Cotabato province with an official from the Philippine embassy in Dubai in attendance, Jaruda said.

If the pork export in Dubai will push through, she noted that this will be a very good breakthrough for the livestock industry in Region 12, also called SOCCSKSARGEN or Southwestern Mindanao region.

Jaruda said the sampling of pork meat products coming from the region is expected to commence this month to determine if it could pass the food safety requirements of Dubai.

She said they have already accredited hog farms in Region 12 that would supply the foreign shipment.

These are located in the cities of General Santos and Koronadal and in South Cotabato province, and one of them was identified as the Progressive Farms, Inc., one of the piggeries under the Lucio Tan Group of Companies.

If the export to Dubai pushes soon enough, this could be the first foreign pork shipment of the country.

Last December, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Davinio P. Catbagan announced that the country may start exporting pork through Malaysia, with the supplies coming from Luzon, “early this year.”

In December 2008, the country should have its first foreign pork shipment to Singapore had it not been for the detection of the Ebola Reston virus in a hog farm in Luzon.

Hog raisers in Mindanao, though far from Luzon, were all set for that shipment when the Agriculture department ordered its abortion.

The Matutum Meat Packing Corp., which is based in Polomolok, South Cotabato, was cleared by Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority to ship the pork meat products in the island-state.

It is the only Triple A slaughterhouse in the area that is also expected to process the pork meat should Dubai allow their entry.

Domestically, hog farms in the SOCCSKSARGEN region also supply the markets in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao and in the provinces of Samar and Leyte. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)