DA gov’t hopes to boost MDM production

Published December 9, 2020, 6:30 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

It’s good news for both local hog raisers and meat importers after the Department of Agriculture (DA) moved to set aside a portion of its Bayanihan 2 budget to fund the establishment of four meat cold storage warehouses and meat-cutting facilities.

In a statement, the DA, through its National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), will spend about P280 million to build storage warehouses complete with meat-cutting facilities, which will be put up in Pampanga, Malagos in Davao del Sur, as well as in Tanauan and San Jose in Batangas

Agriculture Secretary William Dar (MANILA BULLETIN)

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said these facilities once operational will help support the recovery of the country’s hog and poultry sub-sectors as they were adversely affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) and economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, respectively.

The four DA-NMIS-funded cold storage areas will be complemented with meat-cutting facilities to allow further value-adding that will enhance farmers’ incomes as these can produce “choice meat cuts” to supply the growing market.

The facilities are also seen to contribute to local production of mechanically-deboned meat (MDM) that comprises the bulk of raw materials used in the food processing sector.

Since the Philippines don’t currently produce MDM, local meat processors have long been dependent on imports.

Right now, about 90 percent to 95 percent of raw materials of the local meat processing industry are imported abroad.

In October, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) raised concerns over the trade war that is brewing between the Philippines and Brazil over the import ban that the DA imposed on Brazilian poultry meat.

In a statement, PAMPI asked the government to avoid trade disputes with countries that provide raw materials for the food industry.

 “It’s not because we want to, but because we have to,” PAMPI said, noting that the Philippines imports more than 800,000 metric tons (MT) of meat every year, of which 50 percent to 60 percent is used by meat processors to produce canned meat products, hotdogs, and frozen meat items.

Meanwhile, Dar said the DA-NMIS will partner with hog farmers and poultry raisers, industry stakeholders, respective local government units, and the academe in Pampanga, Batangas, and Davao to put up, operate and maintain the aforementioned cold storage and meat-cutting facilities.

Negotiations are ongoing with identified stakeholders, said NMIS director Reildrin Morales.

Once established, the facilities will provide services to meat processing industries, serve as an avenue for research and learning, and help enhance the conduct of the government’s meat industry regulatory functions, Morales added.

Funding for said facilities comes from appropriations under Republic Act No. 11494, also known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2”, where the DA was granted a supplemental P24-billion budget to help address the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the agri-fishery sector.

Using this money, the DA is also implementing a food logistics plan as part of its national Plant, Plant, Plant program to revive, grow, and reboot the country’s agriculture and fishery sector amid the ongoing health crisis.

“Efficient management and delivery of food crops, fruits and vegetables, fishery, livestock, and poultry products are imperative and critical, in response to the country’s food security requirements. Hence, now more than ever, we should put a premium on the establishment of modern storage, processing, and logistics facilities to attain a globally-competitive food value chain system,” Dar further said.