By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard
Presidential frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. vowed to allocate funds to further research on alternative raw materials for animal feeds in a bid to lower the price of pork after he wins in the fast-approaching May 9 national elections.
Marcos stressed that the country’s reliance on foreign-sourced raw materials in animal feeds as contributing greatly to the high production costs in local swine farming.
“Our dependence on imported ingredients for our local animal feed production is one of the reasons why the price of pork products remains high in the country. Reducing or eliminating this would ultimately lead to reduced farm gate prices,” Marcos said.
Based on 2021 data, feeds represent the most expensive input in swine farming, such that the Philippines has higher feed costs than Vietnam and China.
Feeds equate to 54.64 percent of the cost for backyard raisers and 64.53 percent for commercial raisers.
“There is ongoing research for the use of copra meal and cassava as an alternative feed ingredient and we will support that initiative.
Alongside this, we will look into improving the yield of cassava to make it readily available as raw material,” Marcos said.
According to 2020 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), local swine production is a P249.66 billion industry primarily composed of backyard raisers.
Supply issues also hound local swine production, which saw a 6.9% dip with the onslaught of African Swine Fever (ASF) in 2020.
“There is also an urgent need for us to revive our local corn production because the high tariff imposed on imported corn drives the price of feeds further, Marcos added.
He pointed out that when it comes to the protein component of feeds, imported soybeans are still the major source despite local sorghum, Azolla, or copra meal showing promise as a substitute.
Marcos was also lukewarm on the proposal to lift the ban on imported animal proteins used in feed production as this may open the local swine industry to the risks of a resurgence in African Swine Fever (ASF).
“We need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of the proposal to lift the ban on processed animal protein. The local hog industry is just beginning to recover. We cannot risk this sector to be devastated again by ASF,” Marcos added.
Currently, there is a ban on pork importation imposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA), which effectively suspends animal proteins’ importation.