ASF wields adverse impact to country’s corn production

Published March 28, 2021, 6:30 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The persistence of African Swine Fever (ASF) did not only affect the Philippines’ hog production. Corn production, too, is now reeling from the impact of the dreaded animal virus.

In the latest Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report, US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) here in Manila (Post) said the country’s corn production is expected to fall 2.4 percent to 8.0 million metric tons (MT), resulting from reduced hog and broiler feed consumption and low farm gate prices. 

Photo by DA-CAR.

“Grain and feed prospects in MY [market year] 2021/2022 are challenged by the continued spread of ASF in main pork-producing areas of Luzon and in parts of the Visayas and Mindanao. The disease is fatal to pigs but poses no human health concerns,” FAS said.

“The threat of ASF has driven some hog raisers to downsize operations, including two major piggeries on Luzon Island. Lower demand for hog feed (and lower corn farm gate prices) is likely to lead to lower corn planting intentions,” it added.

Another major factor that will lead to the decline in corn production, according to FAS, is COVID-19 and the country’s resulting economic downturn.

“Philippine gross domestic product plunged 9.5 percent in 2020, the worst performance since World War II and the first decline since 1998. Although analysts expect the country’s economy to partially rebound in 2021, higher unemployment, poverty levels, and consumer price inflation will pose significant challenges,” it further said.

Corn and feed wheat are used in making feeds. Feed wheat is utilized primarily in hog feeds, while poultry raisers prefer using corn as their primary feed ingredient.    

Hog feeds account for an estimated 50 percent of overall feed production in the Philippines, with poultry feeds at roughly 45 percent, and the remaining five percent with aquaculture and other animal feeds.

However, the latest report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that total swine inventory on January 1, 2021 was 9.75 million heads, 24 percent lower than the previous year’s level.

This, as ASF remains a significant concern in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and local hog raisers are now hesitant to repopulate due to its threat.

Meanwhile, the local poultry sector faces continued lower chicken demand due to the effects of the COVID19 pandemic, namely the restrictions placed on food service establishments and the overall economic decline resulting from various forms of quarantine since mid-March 2020.

The country’s total chicken inventory was nearly 180 million birds on January 1, 2021, up 0.9 percent from the previous year, according to PSA’s Chicken Situation Report.

Broiler numbers were down 4.7 percent, however, compared to the 4.2 percent growth of layers.

For this market year, the Philippines is also expected to import 150,000 MT less still due to lower demand and feed wheat’s tariff advantage (35 percent Most Favored Nation duty vs. 5 percent tariff for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and limited import quota.

Locally, corn is harvested during all four quarters of the year, with the July to September crop traditionally being the main harvest, coinciding with the rainy season. Over one-third of total corn production in 2020 was harvested from July to September. 

Philippine corn production in calendar year 2020 reached 8.12 million MT, up 1.7 percent from 2019, according to PSA.

Harvested corn area, meanwhile, increased 1.4 percent to 2.55 million hectares during the same period, while yield remained flat in 2020 at 3.18 MT per hectare compared to 2019’s 3.17 MT per hectare.