“Sa mahal na presyo ng baboy sa merkado, manok ang nagiging alternatibo ng mga mamimili. Kailangang mapanatili nating sapat ang suplay nito para hindi ito mahawa sa pagtaas ng presyo ng baboy.”

(Because of the high price of pork in the market, chicken has become the alternative meat for many. We need to make sure that we have enough supply of this and that its prices don’t go the same way as pork.)

This according to Senator Risa Hontiveros as she called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to expand the supply of domestic chicken, as it rapidly becomes the preferred protein source together with eggs at the family table amid the rising prices of pork in the market. Pork prices, she added, increased almost twice as much compared to pre-pandemic levels and have been the immediate trigger of widening concerns over hunger.

“Finding a replacement and ensuring the continuous supply of chicken will ‘hit two birds with one stone’. Aside from providing an alternative to pork, chicken can also provide families with a source of income as it is a quickstart and fast-gestating business like vegetable production,” she stressed.

To strengthen domestic poultry production, Hontiveros urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to amplify its support for ‘new clusters of chicken producers’. “Malaki ang potensyal ng clusters because they mimic the efficiency advantage of large poultry producers. Kahit na small and medium scale sila, may common facilities sila, nagtutulungan sa pera at labor, nagsasaluhan kapag di maka-deliver ang isa,” she said.

(Clusters have a big potential because they mimic the efficiency advantage of large poultry producers. Even if they’re small to medium scale, they have common facilities. They help each other with regards to funds and labor and when they can’t deliver.”

She also noted that the DA should be able to guide poultry producers from organization, bargaining for a fair share of profit, to growing the insurance markets to protect them against the risks of the business.

“There is no shortage of labor, capital, technology and land. In fact, lands previously devoted to rice can now be allocated to the poultry sector. May 20 hanggang 30 na mga probinsya sa Mimaropa, Cagayan Valley, Southern Mindanao at Central Luzon na halos hindi na kumikita sa pagtatanim ng palay. Pwede nilang gamitin ang lupa para sa feeds at poultry production,” she said. “The government, in coordination with the private sector, should be able to provide support every step of the way.”

(There are 20 to 30 provinces in Mimaropa, Cagayan Valley, Southern Mindanao and Central Luzon that are barely making money from cultivating rice. We can use the land for feed and poultry production.)

Moreover, the Senator pointed out that constraints in poultry raising, such as the high cost of feeds, must be promptly addressed through lowering of tariffs on imported feeds.

Hontiveros warns that the inability to respond to the escalating price of food commodities could lead to a ‘deadly combination’ of health and hunger crises that will further hamper the country’s economic recovery.

“Bukod sa COVID-19, nanganganib tayong tamaan ng pandemya ng kagutuman. Walang bakuna sa gutom. Ang malawakang produksyon ng pagkain ang isa sa mga solusyon upang may laman ang hapag-kainan ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino,” Hontiveros concluded.

(Aside from COVID-19, we are in danger of being overwhelmed by the pandemic and hunger. There is no vaccine against hunger. Proper food production is one of the solutions so that there is enough food on the dinner table of every Filipino.)