By Myriam G. Layaoen, Comms Team

Amid the growing concern on the supply of chicken and pork, the Department of Agriculture assures the consuming public of enough meat to feed the country.

“Contrary to recent projections painting a deficit scenario of the country’s meat sector, we are pleased to report that on the contrary we have a favorable outlook despite difficulties encountered last year, especially for pork, due to the African Swine Fever outbreak,” agriculture secretary William D. Dar said.

“For instance, we are projecting an ending stock in June 2020 good for 62 days for chicken and 10 days for pork, based on the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority and consultations with industry stakeholders themselves,” the DA chief said.

“Chicken supply is seen to surpass the annual requirement of 1.3 million metric tons (MMT) by 24 percent (%), equivalent to more than 400,000 MT, assuring us by January 2021 an inventory good for 157 days,” he added.

On pork, producers said there is actually an oversupply, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao, adding that cold storage facilities are brimming with pork and there may even be no need to import this year.

The DA, however, said the country’s pork supply remains a challenge, as the ‘Asian Outlook 2020’ and the DA’s National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) forecast a deficit of around 121,000 MT by the end of the year due to a 21% contraction.

“We acknowledge the projected deficit in pork that is why we are rolling out interventions to increase swine production this early. We are requesting funds under the Plant, Plant, Plant Program to increase hog production and support our swine raisers,” secretary Dar said.

Under the Plant, Plant, Plant Program or Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra Covid-19, the DA will pursue two projects to boost livestock and poultry production, namely: integrated livestock and corn resiliency project; and expanded small ruminants and poultry project.

The DA will also intensify hog raising in ASF-free areas, following its zoning plan, and implement an urban agriculture project that includes native chicken production.

“As we have more chicken than pork, we encourage consumers to shift to the former, and consider other poultry meat, eggs and processed products,” the DA chief suggested.

The DA forecasts, based on field reports and consultations with hog and poultry industry stakeholders, that throughout the year 11 regions will enjoy chicken surplus, while seven regions will produce more pork than their respective requirements.

Finally, data from the US Department of Agriculture showed the country’s total swine inventory increased by 0.7 percent as commercial farms’ hog numbers increased by 6.2 percent. This indicates a shift to commercial farming, as such operations benefit from strong biosecurity measures and efficient production.

“In all, our focus from hereon is to boost production of other sources of animal protein as part of our primary goal of increasing the adequacy level of rice, other major crops, and fishery products — or national food security, in general,” concluded secretary Dar.

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