GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 06 February) — Hog producers in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) committed on Saturday to help ease the shortage of pork supply in Metro Manila by increasing their shipment of live hogs and frozen carcasses to that area.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said members of the South Cotabato Swine Producers Association (Socospa) agreed to consolidate the available hog resources in the province to maximize their deliveries.
He said this city and South Cotabato, which are among the areas in the country that remain free from the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF), have been shipping around 10,000 heads of live hogs and frozen carcasses every week or 40,000 heads every month to Metro Manila.
“That’s the barest minimum that they can deliver and could still be increased,” he said in a press conference.
Dar, who met with Socospa members at the Greenleaf Hotel here on Saturday morning, said they were able to negotiate a farm gate price of 144 pesos per kilo for the pork shipments based on the prevailing rates.
He said the government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Region 12, will provide a transport subsidy of 21 pesos per kilo to increase the base price to 165 pesos per kilo.
To facilitate the unhampered pork shipments and deliveries, the DA will fast track the processing of the required documents and ensure their access in the “special hog lanes” along the nautical highway.
The special lanes cover all “roll on, roll off” or Ro-ro and trucking routes along the Maharlika highway.
Dar instructed the Bureau of Animal Industry and DA-12 to ensure these would be laid out smoothly “without sacrificing the quarantine protocols” on ASF.
He said Socospa agreed to maintain their farm gate price to complement with the price cap or ceiling for pork products in Metro Manila based on Executive Order No. 124 issued on Feb. 1 by President Rodrigo Duterte.
It set a price ceiling of 270 pesos per kilo for kasim/pigue and 300 pesos per kilo for liempo for at least two months.
With the prevailing rate, Dar said traders will still have a reasonable income and the prices of pork products will not increase further.
“We are helping our hog raisers on this, that’s the number one priority. They should earn enough along with all those involved in the supply chain. In the end, there will be affordable pork supplies for the consuming public,” he said.
Clinton Edward Ang, Socospa president, lauded the DA for initiating the opening of the “special hog lanes” and for providing them with additional shipping alternatives, among them the mobilization of vessels commissioned to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
He said the area has enough surplus of live hogs and frozen carcasses to supply the other markets but was constrained by transportation and shipping problems.
“Our concern had always been on how to deliver them to Luzon. We thank the DA for making the hog lane, especially for the land trips as there are really a lot of obstructions along the way,” he said.
Ang assured that they can increase their shipments to Metro Manila from the current 40,000 heads a month and still sustain the requirements of the local markets.
“As much as possible, we will try to ship (out) what we can,” he said.
Dar and other top DA officials were in city as part of a two-day swing in Region 12.
On Saturday morning, he led the ceremonial send-off at the DA-Agricultural Program Coordinating Office in Barangay Lagao here of some 260 live hogs worth 4 million pesos bound for Metro Manila.
Dar graced the distribution on Friday afternoon of some 13 million pesos worth of agricultural and fishery support packages to farmers and fisherfolk from the municipalities of Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum in Sarangani province.
He also joined the signing of the memorandum of agreement for the pilot implementation of the provincial-led Agriculture and Fishery Extension Systems program in Sarangani.
Sarangani will receive a grant of some 226 million pesos this year for the roll out of the program, which aims to bring the agency’s extension services to the grassroots level. (MindaNews)