Despite the existing threat of African Swine Fever (ASF), which has been pulling down the country’s pork supply, Pilmico Foods Corp., the food unit of listed conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. (AEV), is still looking to increase its hog production.
Pilmico said in a statement that it intends to continue investments in its swine raising business, while it heightens biosecurity, farm zoning, and introduce efficiencies in the pork supply chain in the country.
As part of the efforts, Pilmico said it is looking to further modernize the processing of pork with the operation of Tarlac Meatmasters, its triple-A slaughterhouse and meat cutting facility in Bamban, Tarlac.
Established in 2020, Tarlac Meatmasters now has a daily slaughtering capacity of 1,500 heads of hogs.
The facility is equipped with the newest state-of-the-art technology, which includes meats management system that gives performance information and traceability of the pigs from ‘farm to fork’.
The company, however, didn’t specify by how much it is looking to expand Tarlac Meatmasters’ capacity.
Pilmico Food Group President and Chief Executive Officer Tristan Aboitiz said his company is committed to working with the government, the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), and its fellow meat producers to ensure the longstanding success of the agribusiness sector in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the DA said it is looking to partner with the private sector and local government units for its massive hog repopulation program.
The program called Bantay ASF sa Barangay (BABay ASF) will have combined public and private investments of P29.6 billion, the DA said.
It is aimed at effectively controlling the dreaded ASF, which already resulted in the culling and death of around 500,000 hogs in the country as well as raisers’ decision to abandon hog raising business.
The BABay ASF has initial funding of P1.5 billion, while the existing Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) has P600 million.
To encourage backyard and semi-commercial raisers in ASF-free areas and “green zones” to go back to the business of swine fattening and piglet production, the DA through the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) is also offering zero-interest loans, payable in three to five years.
The DA-ACPC has set aside an initial budget of P500 million for this financing program.
Right now, the government is preparing for the forthcoming National Food Security Summit, tentatively set on April 7 to 8, 2021. The nationwide event aims to gather all stakeholders in the food supply chain in order to address a potential deficit in some food commodities.
“We are appealing to everyone. This is the time to bring ideas to the table. This is the time to cooperate. This is the time to understand the mix of interventions that we have put together,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
However, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) feared that the Food Security Summit called by Malacanang and the DA will be nothing more than a farcical event if it will not address the situation of the country’s productive forces: the farmers, fisherfolks, and sectors involved in agriculture and food production.
“The upcoming Food Security Summit would only be a face-saving activity for the Duterte regime and its entire cabal of taskforces on food security if it would not include farmers, fishers, and real food producers,” said Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP.
KMP forewarned that the Summit might focus only on DA’s marketing and logistics solutions rather than actual support to food producers particularly farmers, hog raisers, and breeders who are affected by high production costs.
“DA is looking at importation, tariff reduction, and loans to address the problems of the hog and swine industries. However, a comprehensive rehabilitation of the entire livestock and poultry industries is necessary to help raisers and producers recover,” Ramos said.