Hog producers urged to prepare for AFTA next year

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THE Department of Agriculture (DA) urged local hog producers to prepare for the full implementation of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) in 2015, stressing that an open market would offer opportunities for the Philippine local hog industry.

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“Remember, ours is the only foot-and-mouth disease-free country without vaccination in Southeast Asia, and we must take advantage of that,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said at the opening program of the Philippine Swine Forum 2014.

The economic integration of Asean starting next year aims to create a single market economy with free movement of goods, services and investments throughout the 10-member group of nations which includes the Philippines.

Besides providing infrastructure and facilities, Alcala said that the DA’s main concern pre-Asean free trade is modifying the country’s agricultural practices to match international standards.

“Dito po nakasalalay ang ating mga gawain para sa darating na pagkakataon. Gumawa po tayo ng paraan para tayo’y makapagluwas ng ating produkto [Our future activities will depend on this. Let us find ways to export our products],” he said.

The country’s swine industry showed good performance in previous years because of the effective collaboration of the DA with swine industry players, creating benefits for both hog producers and consumers.

Data from the Philippine Statistical Authority reveal that for the first quarter of 2014, livestock production went up by 1.2 percent from a year earlier, accounting for 15.44 percent of the country’s total agricultural output for the period.

The major source of growth came from the hog industry, which expanded by 1.25 percent.

Manuel Jarmin, executive director of the DA’s Livestock Development Council (DA-LDC), said that the swine industry has consistently dominated other livestock industries in terms of volume and value of production.

“In fact for the last three years, the swine industry contributed the most to the growth of the livestock subsector,” Jarmin said.

He said that in 2013, 2.01 million tons (live weight) of hog valued at P191.92 billion was produced, making the hog commodity the second-highest contributor, at 13.48 percent, to agriculture based on percentage distribution of value of production at constant prices. The biggest contributor is palay or paddy rice, at 19.82 percent.

Hog inventory as of 2014 stood at 11.8 million heads, of which 65 percent come from backyard farms and 35 percent commercial.

“The government, thru the DA’s National Livestock Program (NLP), aims to maintain the country’s disease-free status for FMD, reduce production cost and achieve cost-efficiency, self-sufficiency in pork, develop value-added products for domestic and export markets, and export ventures to Asia and the Middle East,” Jarmin said.

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