Help! Agri groups hurting over deluge of smuggled produce in markets

Published February 18, 2021, 3:02 PM

by Betheena Unite

Pork producers and other agricultural stakeholders are urging the government to create a task force against smuggled agricultural and frozen goods, which according to them have been flooding Philippine markets.

(Jansen Romero / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (AGAP) and the Pork Producers of the Philippines (ProPork) said in a statement that many farmers continue to deal with hefty losses due to “technical smuggling” by “undervaluation and misdeclaration” of the agricultural products.

“Frozen goods and other agricultural products have been flooding the country and it is clear that the importers or smugglers are the ones benefiting from this,” Nicanor Briones, AGAP president and ProProk vice president for Luzon, said in Filipino.

Briones said losses resulting from the illegal importation of these products reach P40 billion annually, and farmers and poultry and hog raisers are finding this harder to swallow because of the pandemic.

“If only the government responds to our call to compensate each pig infected by the African swine fever (ASF) with (a) P10,000 aid, hog raisers will be able to restart and add more hogs to raise,” he said.

They also urged the government to implement programs that will benefit their sector and the consumers more instead of just focusing on importing products.

They also called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to put a price ceiling on imported or frozen meat amounting to P160 to P180 per kilo.

Briones also questioned why the DA has chosen not to hold its Food Summit until April, even as the agriculture sector is in dire need of immediate solutions to its problems. 

“If Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s mismanagement in addressing the crisis continues, hogs in the Visayas and Mindanao will eventually be wiped out even before a vaccine against the disease can be developed,” Brioned stressed.

The group also appealed to President Duterte to limit imports of minimum volume access (MAV) to 200,000 metric tons and impose a 40 percent tariff this year. 

 
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