Imee: Why Are We Import-Crazy?

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Senator Imee Marcos said the government must help local livestock raisers become more price-competitive to survive the surge of imports that make up more than half of the poultry and pork products in the market.

“Stop the importation madness. Filipinos first!” Marcos said.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, cited the August inventory of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) that showed imports making up 81% of the 43,124 kilos of frozen pork surveyed in the market.

The NMIS inventory also showed that imported dressed chicken made up 58% of the total 60,810 kilos surveyed.

Marcos said the high volume of imported poultry products and their lower market prices were making the situation worse for local raisers who are already hurting from the sudden slash in market demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Domestic demand for local pork and chicken has dwindled among food companies, hotels and restaurants that have scaled down operations or totally shut down amid extended community quarantines.

In the past week, wet market prices for imported pork cost Php120 to Php175 per kilo, compared to local pork being sold at Php230 to Php260.

Imported chicken ranged from Php100 to Php110 per kilo in the same period, cheaper than the Php125 to Php130 price range for local chicken.

One solution to make local poultry products more competitive is for the Department of Agriculture to provide poultry raisers with the technology for processing mechanically deboned chicken meat – an imported product hardly produced locally due to the lack of facilities, Marcos said.

Marcos also urged the government to explore market expansion of poultry exports to Japan, South Korea, and other countries where local production costs are high.

On the other hand, the importation of pork products should also be closely watched, Marcos said, to prevent the entry of communicable animal diseases like Asian swine fever that could easily spread and damage the local pork industry.

“The recent scare over contaminated pork from Germany and Brazil calls for stricter requirements in issuing sanitary and phytosanitary clearances,” Marcos said.

The government can also make local livestock raisers more competitive by offering incentives to big food companies that will support fragmented farms and assist in the production chain, from livestockraising all the way to distribution and sales, Marcos added.

The Bureau of Customs should also step up its campaign to curb the smuggling of misdeclared or undervalued food products.

“While cheaper imports may be considered a boon to the public, the country’s food security must not depend on them. The government must support local pork and poultry raisers, if they are to survive and still be around when any hitch occurs in the global food supply chain,” Marcos said.