The Department of Agriculture (DA) is now pushing to further expand the minimum access volume (MAV) allocation on pork to 404,210 metric tons (MT) from the current 54,000 MT, a proposal that has already been sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for approval.
On Tuesday (Feb. 16), Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during the House hearing on rising food prices that the DA already submitted to Malacañang on Monday night the proposal to increase the pork import allocation under MAV.
However, instead of increasing it to 388,790 MT, the agency is now pushing for a MAV allocation of 404,210 MT of pork, he said.
At this point, this is already the third time the DA adjusted and raised its proposal on higher MAV allocation on pork, starting with the plan to just triple the MAV allocation to 162,000 MT.
MAV refers to the volume of a specific agricultural product that is allowed to be imported with a lower tariff as committed by the Philippines to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Pork imports falling within the MAV are levied a 30 percent tariff, while the out-quota tariff is 40 percent.
Right now, the DA is still waiting for Tariff Commission to approve its separate proposal for a 12-month tariff reduction on pork.
The agency particularly wants pork imports under MAV to be slapped with lower tariff from the current 30 percent up to 5 percent in the first six months of the implementation of the proposal, and up to 10 percent in the succeeding six months.
For pork imports outside MAV, the recommendation is for the tariff to be reduced from the current 40 percent to 15 percent in the first six months and 20 percent in the next six months of the implementation of the temporary tariff reduction.
The DA is pushing for all of these things as part of the measures to bring down the price of pork in the country amid the persistence of African Swine Fever (ASF).
ASF, which was first detected in the country in 2019, is a fatal animal disease that has so far resulted in the death and culling of nearly 500,000 hogs.
Because of the continuous ASF outbreaks, a lot of local hog raisers also decided to suspend production
and shift to a different livelihood, pulling down further the country’s pork supply.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that as of January of this year, the country’s total swine inventory was estimated at 9.72 million heads. This was a decline of -24.1 percent from the previous year’s same period level of 12.80 million heads.
During the period, the hog population in backyard and commercial farms contracted by -13.3 percent and -41.8 percent, respectively.
Aside from increasing pork imports, the DA is also in the process of assisting raisers from Visayas and Mindanao to ship their hogs to Luzon.
This, since while Visayas and Mindanao already have their respective ASF cases, these island regions were not as badly hit as Luzon by the highly contagious animal disease.
On Tuesday, an additional 1,350 head of hogs arrived in Luzon from General Santos City (GenSan) and South Cotabato.
The hogs, kept in 13 trucks on board a “Ro-Ro” vessel that sailed from GenSan on February 14, arrived in Talao-Talao Port, Lucena City.
Last week, more than 26 metric tons of live hogs were also shipped from GenSan courtesy of the Koronadal Valley Livestock Growers Cooperative.
Dar said in a statement that live hog shipments continue to pass through a “special hog lane”, allowing the unhampered transport and delivery to government-certified slaughterhouses.