New SRP fails to bring down cost of pork

Published November 11, 2020, 3:27 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The government’s recently imposed suggested retail price (SRP) on pork is not working, at least based on the latest price monitoring report of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Based on the latest price monitoring report of the DA, the prevailing price of pork kasim at select markets in Metro Manila stood at P300 per kilogram (/kg), while pork liempo is being sold at P320/kg as of November 10.

Such price is higher than the SRP set by the same agency two weeks ago, which pegged the ideal prices of pork kasim and pork liempo at P260/kg and P280/kg, respectively.  

Around the same time, the DA promised to facilitate the weekly shipment of as much as 30,000 hogs from Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon in order to address what it calls “artificial price increase” in pork.
The weekly shipments should have already commenced and will take place until December. They will come from the main ports of Davao, General Santos, and Cagayan de Oro.

Such a decision came a day after the DA lifted the import ban on pork coming from Belgium.

For DA, the price increase in pork is a result of traders and hog raisers’ attempt to manipulate prices by restricting the release of their supply.   

The agency also blamed the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) for the shortage of supply since the animal disease already resulted in the death and culling of nearly 400,000 hogs.

However, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) Chairperson Rosendo So said it was the inability of the government to control the entry of imported pork products that could possibly contain diseases that is resulting in price increases and continuous spread of ASF.

“We squarely blame the spread of ASF and the increasing pork prices, other animal/aquatic diseases and plant diseases (such as Avian Flu, Foot and Mouth Disease, Salmonella, Weevil or bukbok for rice) in the country because of our continuous inability to thoroughly examine imported agricultural and food products at our ports of first entry,” So said.

Just this week, So wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar asking for an update regarding the DA’s compliance of the ‘Quarantine First Policy’ of the Republic Act (RA) 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013, which was enacted seven years ago.

Under this law, all imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the DA and the Department of Health (DOH) at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations.

“We would like to be enlightened on the claim of a stringent two-stage inspection process, in lieu of the legally mandated First Border Inspection, or quarantine first policy. To this end, can your office categorically state that all agricultural imports from January 2020 to November 2020 underwent quarantine tests that were conducted/administered by duly accredited laboratories in the country, with corresponding results,” So said.

“There is no substitute for the full implementation of “quarantine first policy” provision of RA 10611 (Food Safety Act of 2013). To insist otherwise is a betrayal of the very mandate of the Department of Agriculture,” he further said.