Suspension of pork imports asked until “genuine” quarantine system that ensures tariff/duties collection is in place

September 21, 2019                                                                        

The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) supports the call of the Samahan ng Industriya sa Agrikultura (SIK) for government to suspend importation of pork until a genuine quarantine system is in place at Customs borders.

   That policy will not only ensure animal protection from infection of the dreaded African swine fever (ASF). It will also ensure that proper tariffs and duties are paid.

   The government—the Bureau of Customs (BOC)—currently does not have the full capability to carry out strict biosecurity system that will guarantee that no imported meat products infected with ASF will enter the country.

   These BOC deficiencies include the absence of  refrigerated facilities where the meat products may be adequately inspected for quarantine systems by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the system for proper collection of tariffs and duties.

   These deficiencies derail implementation of proper  animal and food safety along with proper revenue collection from meat imports.

   “The current ‘make-do’ second border system inside the cold storage facility of the importer is meaningless in terms of proper collection of tariffs and duties, quarantine and food safety,” said PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto.

   Such government practice of allowing meat imports to be directly transported to warehouse of importers before these are evaluated for quarantine procedures and charged with tariffs and duties have long been questioned by agriculture stakeholders.

   “The Bureau of Customs has no refrigerated facilities within the  Port of Manila which has prevented the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) from implementing quarantine protocols,” Fausto said.

   Poultry and livestock industry stakeholders have long recommended that all meat imports should just go through a single port with the necessary facilities for a full quarantine process.

   The agriculture stakeholders have asserted government’s role in implementing biosecurity systems against ASF will be crucial. 

   Likewise, all local government units (LGUs) should consistently impose on all backyard hog raisers to obtain business permit for their operations even as some LGUs do not even know that hog backyard raisers exist in their jurisdiction. 

   LGUs will have a critical role in this biosecurity system considering that nearly 70 percent of all hog production in the Philippines comes from backyard raisers. 

   “LGUs should be held liable on the control of African swine fever within their area,” said Fausto.

   At the same time, even sari-sari store operators should be monitored for keeping business permits through which a system may be implemented on controlling consumption of meat that may be affected by the disease. 

Stricter biosecurity measure on pigs urged by PCAFI after hog disposal in Marikina river

Stricter biosecurity measure on pigs urged by PCAFI after hog disposal in Marikina river

September 13, 2019

The private sector has urged government to implement stricter biosecurity measures against the spread of Asian swine fever (ASF) on hogs but also assured consumers that humans cannot be infected by the disease.

   The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food (PCAFI) urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and local government units (LGU) to intensify implementation of protocol in disposing of dead hogs.  This as some of the dead hogs suspected of having been infected by ASF have been found floating in the Marikina River.   

   “Offenders should be prosecuted as this is apparently a violation of certain memorandum act of DA regarding the disposal of dead hogs,” said PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto.  “Stricter implementation of biosecurity procedures should be observed.”

   At the same time, Fausto said there should also be more information program declaring the scare against hog consumption since ASF does not adversely affect human health.

   “People should not be afraid of ASF,” said Fausto.

   Edwin Chen, president of PCAFI member Pork Producers Federation of the Phils (Propork), said hog raisers, particularly those from small backyards, should be advised to observe proper disposal of dead hogs.

   “If the farm is in the backyard, the hogs (affected by the disease) should be culled first then buried immediately outside the farm at a depth (that may not be disturbed by other animals.) Depending on the number, it should be within a certain depth, maybe two meters if there are only a few.”

   “In commercial farms or in a locality, DA people have a designated areas for burying these. The site should not be near a waterway or a creek.”

   DA spokesman Noel Reyes said government will be prosecuting offenders on the handling of dead hogs based on the Animal Welfare Act and the Solid Waste Management Law.

   There are several other ways of controlling spread of ASF, according to authorities. The Disease and Welfare guide of the advises the following:

  • Prevention of feeding of contaminated feed and contaminated food waste used to supplement hog feed
  • Control of the animals from the bites of soft bodied ticks, lies and flies
  • Prevention of inoculation of the pigs with contaminated syringes and use of contaminated surgical equipment
  • Prevention of introduction of infected pigs with uninfected ones. (Melody M. Aguiba)

Sixto K. Roxas’ model of rural development

Vince Roxas (right in black) presents the SKR Sustainable Development Model

Today, I feel fortunate to have attended a presentation on a Sustainable Development model conceived by people from the Development Academy of the Philippines. The idea of the model is to promote true poverty reduction from the really grassroots level, the poorest of the poor through agro-industrialization.

Vince Roxas, son of former Bancom Development Corp. (Bancom) president Sixto K. Roxas, explained the development in rural areas led by real estate developers is not a model that truly sustains Philippines’ economic development.

Real estate development makes Philippines a net importer of food, an exporter of raw materials or agricultural products, and and exporter of sadly, overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

As soon as a real estate developer constructs a mall, areas surrounding it gets to have land value appreciation. Then, even agricultural areas get sold out and are converted into residential/industrial area, leaving farmers and prospective agriculture entrepreneurs without land to till. Meanwhile, that community flourishes because farmers and their families go abroad, and that OFW money flows back to the once rural area and prompts a more intensified consumer consumption, thereby appearing to contribute to rural development. The cycles just goes on, and more OFWs go abroad, eventually becoming detached to their old community as even his own land is sold off. Farmers are left without jobs, and the farm sector dies in that area. The cycle goes on as real estate developers transfer to another rural area.

I and Bohol Governor Arthur C. Yap

The development model though proposed by SKR is one where Philippines taps its own natural resources, intellectual/human capital for its own use, produce goods that may be consumed here and in export markets–enabling a more sustainable development through agro-industrialization.

I was in this presentation as part of a team from the private sector, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) where I do PR work.

Bohol Governor Arthur C. Yap (a former Department of Agriculture secretary) was there not only to listen to the SKR model presentation, but to offer Bohol to PCAFI businessmen as an investment destination. He wants businessmen to take part in this sustainable development to be piloted in Bohol. One town I remember as a suggested area of investment is Ubay– ideal for dairy carabao business.

Bohol appears to be an auspicious investment area, according to DVF Dairy Inc. President Danilo V. Fausto, as other businessmen have already infused investments there– including Philip Ong (bangus).

Other sectors represented in the meeting to possibly look at investment opportunities are Lawyer Elias Jose Inciong of the United Raisers and Broilers Assn and Gregorio San Diego of the Egg Board.

I joined PCAFI and the DAP group with Bohol Governor Arthur C. Yap in this photo. I’m at the extreme right (in black)

Vince said Dr. William Dar, DA secretary, wants the SKR model to be piloted in if I recall it right, Alaminos, Pangasinan. However, as I recall, SKR has proposed it to be implemented in Cauayan, Isabela.

The idea of this SKR model really stands on findings based on empirical data carried out by SKR’s group. I hope to write a blog further on this development. (Melody M. Aguiba)

DA to impose SPS measures vs bukbok-packed (pests) imported rice

September 2, 2019

The government will impose sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures against imported rice as imports have ballooned to 2.2 million metric tons (MT) for a quality found to be “bukbok-packed” (pests) to Filipino consumers’ health detriment.

   Imported rice has been found in the past to be needing heavy pesticide-spraying due to the bukbok.

   Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William D. Dar said Saturday DA at a forum with the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc (PCAFI) said government will impose SPS measures. 

   This is sanctioned within its agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to curb poor quality rice imports.

   “We have asked BPI (Bureau of Plant Industry)  to implement protocol in import regulations regarding pesticide residue, presence of storage pests before the issuance of SPS (certificate) for imported rice,” said Dar at the PCAFI meeting held at the Quezon City Sports Club.

   Dar said DA will correct several policies and impose new ones to ensure the benefit of both Filipino farmers and consumers.

   “Those that say DA should rather be called Department of Importation, to some extent that’s true.  And we will correct that eventually.” Dar said.

   One of the policies being studied is the recommendation of PCAFI for the imposition of special safeguard measures, similarly sanctioned by the WTO, to ensure entry of dumped rice does not endanger the local industry.

   “We’re also now studying the possibility of special and general safeguards measure.  If there’s excessive rice import, we will limit these.  We will stop rice from coming from its origin as it’s affected by bukbok,” said Dar.

   PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said such special safeguard measure is a government right as part of protecting its own people.

Danilo V. Fausto, PCAFI President

   Section 7 of Republic Act 11203 (Rice Tariffication Act) indicates government may “increase, reduce, revise” import duty rates (given certain conditions) consistent with “national interest” and the “objective of protection Filipino farmers and consumers.”

   These are possibly other immediate measures of DA in protecting farmers and consumers from the adverse effect of RA 11203 implementation:

  • Imposition of a Suggested Retail Price (SRP) “when figures don’t reflect true value of price” to ensure traders do not take advantage of the situation by “managing” or stopping inflow of supply to domestic market, thereby causing price to shoot up. 
  • DA will study the reason why rice price has not gone down considering huge imports since March upon ratification of RA 11203.
  • Government will legislate increase in rice buffer stock from 30 days to 90 days.  This will provide higher government budget for buying of palay of Filipino farmers’ produce, ensuring better income for farmers.  This may also raise National Food Authority’s (NFA) ability to buy rice from Filipino farmers up to 5% of total rice production, versus the current 1% or less.
  • Enjoining Local Government Units (LGUs) to engage in the business of buying palay, milling, storing, and distributing with the objective of immediately releasing rice stocks so that “turnover” of the value of rice may be realized, bringing multiple profits to Filipino farmers and other stakeholders.  LGUs may also manage warehousing and maintenance of farm machineries as part of a “tripartite agreement” with DA and farmers.
  • National Food Authority’s  warehouses will be leased out to LGUs  who have the advantage of strategically being located where farmers’ produce are, thereby becoming efficient in managing this business.

   However, Fausto warned DA should ensure that this LGU business of rice buying and selling should be an “honest to goodness” one and should not be used by LGU leaders just to benefit those that patronize them.

   “You have to be very careful because LGU leaders are political people.  You can legalize vote buying through this system.  We’re not generalizing all political leaders.  But at the end of the day, some look for votes so that they or their relatives will win again next term,” said Fausto.

   “It should be an honest to goodness way of buying of palay from all sectors, and selling to all.  It should not only benefit the selected few (voters),” Fausto said.  

   This new LGU rice buying and selling, though, definitely has advantage in providing budget for maintenance of warehouses and rice machineries.

   “There’s no issue if government maintains machineries.  There should be training of people on these skills and in marketing goods.  If the machines break down, or the warehouses need repair, there will be a budget that may be lent to the LGU,” said Fausto.  (Melody M. Aguiba-Growth Publishing)

Non-tariff measures, Land Use Plan to be adopted by Duterte Admin as milestone policies for agri modernization

Non-tariff measures, legislated Land Use Plan to be adopted by Duterte Admin as milestone policies for agri modernization

September 1, 2019

Non-tariff measures (NTM) and a legislated Land Use Plan will be adopted by the Duterte Administration as major milestone policies that are seen to catapult Philippines to agricultural modernization.

   In a forum with the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Department of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar declared Saturday these two major policies as an official government stance for the first time since Philippines joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.

   The NTMs will include subsidies for ensuring Filipino farmers will be globally competitive and will have capability to export goods. 

   NTMs will also support Filipino farmers in the form of stricter sanitary and phytosanitary rules for imported goods and other support–  farm to market roads, post harvest facilities, research fund, skills development upgrading.

   “If we need to subsidize, we must subsidize.  That’s a policy direction. There are many ways, not only subsidy, that may be used under the WTO (to help farmers).  New equations, when you promote these in a big way, (will benefit farmers). We will take this route so we can become productive and competitive,” said Dar at a PCAFI meeting at the Quezon City Sports Club .

PILLARS OF AGRI MODERNIZATION. Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar (second from left) speaks on Agri Modernization  before a PCAFI meeting at the Quezon City Sports Club together with (L to R) PCAFI Chairman Philip Ong, former DA Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo Jr., and Rolando Dy of the University of Asia and the Pacific.

   Dar’s declared policy toward NTM was a response to PCAFI’s position that the government has not supported the local farm sector with NTMs openly practiced by developed countries (United States, Japan, European countries).

  PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said the US government approved a Farm Bill providing for $850 billion budget including subsidies for American farmers.

   “That’s against our P70 billion budget that’s all there is for our farmers for this year,” said Fausto.

   Also PCAFI member, Lawyer Elias Jose Inciong of the United Broilers and Raisers Association, said the National Economic Development Authority and other economic team members in the country have all along ignored the fact that foreign farmers are heavily subsidized.

   The Doha Development Round of WTO that commenced in 2001 in fact broke down because developed countries refused to give in to removing subsidies, all other trade support, for their own farmers.

   “What enables other farmers is subsidy. That’s why the Doha development round of WTO, the development aspect, has been abandoned. Its’ not there anymore. Yet, our policy making is very silent on the issue of subsidy.  The economic team will rather blame the agriculture sector of not being competitive or of having protectionist mindset,” said Inciong.

   “But obviously our farmers don’t have subsidy.  Ever since we got into the WTO, we’re competing not only with foreign partners, foreign companies, but foreign governments who subsidize their sector,” said Inciong.

   Dar also took a position that a Land Use Act (LUA) should be legislated, a major policy pushed by the private sector for many years as it protects use for agriculture, but a policy that faced opposition from some legislators.

   “Our position is we don’t have a land use system. That’s the issue of land conversion on one side.  But bright agricultural lands, much more those with irrigation system, must not be converted (for industrial or residential use,”  Dar said.

   Fausto said the LUA will solicify the presence of investors in agriculture.

   “Our investors will have stability with Land Use Act. They’re putting in millions and millions in investments.  But at the end of the day, their land may be converted because we don’t have a proper land use law.  Lands that are perfectly productive should remain producing food for our country,” said Fausto.

   Dar said the LUA would have been ratified a long time ago.

   “The issue of land use is issue has been there for the last 30 years.  We hope this time around, it has to be legislated.  There should be a comprehensive land use for every area.  (Even without the law yet), Local Government Units should now go forward and  start land use planning,” said Dar.

   The PCAFI forum with Dar was attended by close to 200 agriculture sector leaders in the private sector coming from 23 different farm subsectors. (Melody M. Aguiba)