Singapore requirements delay first Mindanao hog export

The requirements, about 21 of them, had moved the target to July, according to Dr. Rafael Mercado, livestock chief of the Department of Agriculture in Southeastern Mindanao. Mercado told reporters at the regular Kapihan sa PIA Friday that Singapore's Agri-food Veterinary Authority (AVA) imposed 21 requirements on hog imports from Mindanao meat packing firms.

Dr. Myrna Habacon, chief of the National Meat Inspection System (NMIS) plant operation and inspection unit in the region told the PIA news conference that the remaining requirements that exporters were complying include plant structural adjustments.

Mercado said he was unable to bring a copy of the requirements and could not cite other items.

The identified exporters were Nenita Quality Foods (NQF) Corp. in Davao City and Mt. Matutum Meat Packing Corporation in Sarangani province.

The Department of Agriculture announced in February that Mindanao would start exporting its hog products to Singapore in June 2007 in the government's bid to tap more foreign markets, boost local production and bring more profit to farmers.

Mercado said the Sarangani-based firm could start shipping hog meat next month. The volume was still undetermined but disclosed that the company has promised to triple its present production, from 50 heads per hour to as many as 250 heads.

It would be the first time the Philippines would export pork to other countries. Mercado said both companies' meat processing systems were inspected.

He said the requirements were protocol of standards observed by importing countries, although Mercado considered them as” most stringent” by far among countries. He said though the Mindanao compliance would “boost the appeal of the country's meat products in the local and the international market”.

Mercado stressed that local production had already passed standards for antibiotic and other chemical residue in the meat, among the meaty issues raised on possible exportation to in Singapore.

Mercado said Mindanao livestock products have advantage in the international market because it is free from foot and mouth diseases and the bird flu, which is afflicting other markets in Asia.

He said the two threats were considered as "trade barriers" in the international market

Mercado said, however, it would still take time for Mindanao to export its poultry products to big markets requiring Halal accreditation. 

He said another company was eyeing to export livestock products to Japan and the company was already doing exploratory studies.  (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)