The government has issued the guidelines governing the additional minimum access volume (MAV) for pork meat, a move seen to briefly benefit consumers but may affect the country's pork industry in the long run.

The MAV Management Committee Resolution 1 outlined the "calibrated distribution" of 70 percent or 140,000 metric tons (MT) from July to October and the remaining 30 percent or 60,000 MT is scheduled for November to January 2022.

It "shall be open to all importers on a first-come first served basis," the resolution read.

"A maximum limit of 50 Full Container Load (FCL), approximately equivalent to 1,250 MT, shall be allowed per application per importer," it said.

Other importers/new entrants are given equal opportunity subject to the agreed manner of distribution.

The promulgation of this resolution was in line with Executive Order (EO) 133, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 10, 2021, which raised the country's MAV or in-quota for pork from 54,210 MT to 254,210 MT.

"It is imperative to immediately address the current supply gap in pork meat, to provide consumers with adequate and affordable food, and to lower inflation," Duterte said in his order.

Sought for comment, Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. Chairman Nicanor Briones said the industry may stand to lose "P7 billion to P14 billion" for the duration of the policy's implementation.

Briones said the industry already lost approximately P100 billion due to the combined effects of African swine fever, importation and smuggling of agricultural products.

"In the short term, this might help our consumers but in the long run, especially by next year, the shortage of hogs will worsen because of the government's policy when it is supposed to focus on the repopulation and aid hog raisers affected by African swine fever. Consumers will suffer the most with this move," he told The Manila Times.

Briones also said increasing pork imports will decrease the farmgate price of hogs, as well as discourage local hog raisers from repopulating and adding more pigs.

Rolando Tambago, president of Central Visayas Pork Producers, said the "front loading" of the initial 140,000 MT of imported pork will further give sufferings to the local pork industry still grappling with the "devastating effects" of ASF.

He said the Department of Agriculture should instead put more efforts on local production that is more tangible and sustainable.

"While we understand the intention of the government to lower down inflation rate but I doubt if it will happen considering world market price of pork is also increasing due to ASF and cost of shipping," he told The Manila Times in a text message.

He also said the imported pork should only be sold to Luzon since it is the only region highly affected by the ASF, resulting in supply shortage and higher prices early this year.

"Visayas and Mindanao is experiencing surplus, that's why our swine farmers are sending live hogs to Luzon. Imported pork should not be distributed to the Visayas and Mindanao," he added partly in Filipino.