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SPECIAL REPORT || Pork shortage driving food supply prices in Palawan

The good news is that the province and the entire MIMAROPA region, according to Dr. Darius Mangcucang of the Provincial Veterinary Office (ProVet), remains ASF-free. The bad news is it has triggered a spiraling of prices of food supply, including fish and marine products. In Puerto Princesa’s wet markets, the prices of round scad (galunggong) have gone up to a high P200/kilo, compared to under P100 during the previous months.

A short supply of pork and other livestock all over Palawan resulting from the current importation ban to prevent the entry into the province of the African Swine Fever (ASF) and Avian flu that is sweeping Luzon has impacted local food supply and driving prices to record highs.

The good news is that the province and the entire MIMAROPA region, according to Dr. Darius Mangcucang of the Provincial Veterinary Office (ProVet), remains ASF-free. The bad news is it has triggered a spiraling of prices of food supply, including fish and marine products. In Puerto Princesa’s wet markets, the prices of round scad (galunggong) have gone up to a high P200/kilo, compared to under P100 during the previous months.

Mangcucang justified the importation ban on pork-based products as necessary to protect the local swine industry.

“Siyempre kapag na-infect ang Palawan, mas lalo tayong walang supply, mauubos lahat ng baboy dito. Kasi kahit hindi siya infected, halimbawa nagkaroon ng outbreak sa Puerto, mula sa impact site na iyan, one kilometer radius kahit wala pang tama ang baboy, automatic iyon ay ika-cull. Ganoon kadelikado kaya pinoproteksyunan natin ang ating probinsiya,” he said.

Palawan’s current pork regulations however do not prevent shipping out healthy pigs and many hog growers are opting to ship out their products to take advantage of higher prices elsewhere.

Mangcucang admitted that the selling price of live pigs in the local market is not good enough for the expenses of hog raisers. This has made them decide to sell outside the province.

 

 

“Usually, iyong mga hog raiser ay binabarat iyan ng mga mamimili, mura iyang bili nila, ay ngayon nagkaroon ng ASF sa ibang lugar, syempre iyong mga taga-ibang lugar ay naghahanap ng mga area na free sa sakit. Tayo sa Palawan ay wala tayong problema kasi we are continuing the monitoring,” he said.

“Siyempre dahil nagkakaubusan ng karne sa ibang lugar, iyong ibang nag-aalaga ng baboy sa atin ay nagbi-benta sila ng baboy sa labas ng Palawan. Isa pang reason kung bakit bumaba ang supply natin ay maraming farmers, dahil sa tinitipid ang kanila, mahirap mag-alaga ng baboy kaya iyong iba ay na-discourage na rin sila na mag-alaga kaya kung tutuusin ay bumaba talaga ang production natin,” he said.

“Tumataas ang presyo ng pagkain sa pamilihan dahil sa kakulangan ng supply ng karneng baboy at manok. Sana mapagtuunan pansin din ng policy makers ng lalawigan at syudad ang problemang ito at mabigyan ng solusyon,” local businessman Rante Ramos expressed in a social media post.

There has been no specific intervention undertaken so far by local governments directly addressing the concern.

City Veterinarian Dr. Indira Santiago said that even if supplies are available in the market, the prices are higher than the regular rate due to the competition present between the local and outside buyers of pork products and live hogs.

“Lately talaga, naramdaman na pagdating siguro sa manok medyo meron tayong kakulangan kahit siguro sa baboy in terms na medyo mahal. May available na supply naman, ang problema lang natin medyo hindi na siya tulad sa presyo dati kasi may mga namimili na galing sa labas ng Palawan, ang competition medyo malaki tapos medyo mataas ang bili ng galing sa labas kaya naapektuhan ang supply ng bili ng baboy,” she said.

 

City situation

Even with the absence of tourists in the city, the demand in  Puerto Princesa City has been constant, with an average of 200 pigs going into slaughter daily. Some 71 percent of the demand is sourced from different barangays, while the remaining 29 percent come from other Palawan towns.

“Kaya nakikita natin ngayon na apektado kasi kahit sa Narra at sa Roxas ay naglalabas kasi sila sa kanilang ports papunta ng Navotas kung hindi ako nagkakamali ng shipment ng mga baboy. Iyong mga live kasi natin na baboy ay ‘yon ay binibili nila but pagdating sa Metro Manila ay 360 na kilo ng baboy doon. Kahit na papaano ay may tubo pa rin sila na maayos,” she said.

Due to the unavailability of feeds during movement restrictions under the community quarantines, some hog raisers and large farms were also forced to dispose of their pigs at cheaper prices. This is also manifested in the current supply issue of the city.

 

Decrease of chicken supply and the effect of Avian flu

Mangcucang believes that other suppliers who are processing pork-based products have shifted to chicken meat, which was observed in supermarkets.

“Iyong iba nag-shift sila sa chicken meat, kung mapapansin niyo katulad sa CDO, instead na pork ay gumawa sila ng chicken ham parang substitute. Siguro dahil na rin doon, namimili iyong mga nagpa-process ‘yong sabihin na natin na meat processing company na iyan, namimili na sila ng maraming manok, pina-process nila into mga ham o anu-anong chicken by-products. Siguro kaya nauubusan din ng supply papunta sa atin,” he said.

 

 

Although there are local poultry raisers in the province, their production is still failing to meet the local demand when it comes to chicken meat.

Santiago, on the other hand, added that the delay of transferring day-old chickens to suppliers in Puerto Princesa and the restriction of shipment due to the Avian flu also contributed to the scarcity of chicken meat.

“Alam naman natin lahat na dumaan tayo ng pandemya, ‘yong supply kasi ng day-old chicken para sa contract growing natin para sa supply ng Puerto (Princesa) ay talagang hindi tayo nadadatingan ng mga manok. Dahil doon, apektado ang supply, dahil sa raising kung wala tayo mari-raise ay wala rin tayong supply. May mga dumating na itlog pero hindi pa rin siya sufficient sa requirement sa ating contract growers,” she said.

“Ngayon meron pang Avian flu na problema ang Luzon kaya ‘yong shipment natin ng mga manok ay medyo mahigpit kaya iyon ang nakikita kong dahilan kung bakit nagkaroon ng scarcity ng manok,” she added.

Santiago said that there are two containers of chickens that arrived in the city, however, it would only last for a week for the demand of city consumers. Puerto Princesa is also affected by the effect in Luzon of Avian flu.

“Ang pagkakaalam ko kasi ang isang buwan ng buong Palawan ay 11 containers, may 12 tons na laman iyan. Palagay na lang natin na sampung tonelada sa isang container, that’s 110 tons ang konsumo natin pagdating sa manok pa lang. Kung ganon kalaki ang konsumo, talagang mararamdaman natin na meron scarcity kapag di natin na-augment at na-supply lahat ng ‘yon,” Santiago said.

She added that suppliers assured that the supply would stabilize in the following weeks.

Santiago said that meat inspectors informed her that the local dressing of chicken meat would start this coming week.

“Sabi nga noong mga nagsu-supply din ng mga manok, itlog at day-old chick, ngayong darating na Linggo or sa susunod na Linggo ay may parating na sila so in a month’s time ay medyo maaayos na ito,” she said.

“Kasi nong mga nakaraan sobrang baha rin naman ang manok sa Puerto. Kung hindi man siya magbaha ay sapat siguro sa pangangailangan natin. Hopefully, tuloy-tuloy na iyan kapag stabilized na ‘yong biyahe ng eroplano kasi ang mga sisiw ay kinakarga diyan, ang pag-schedule ay iyon ang naging issues bakit nahihirapan tayo ngayon sa manok,” she added.

Aside from chicken, the prices of eggs are also affected as observed in the public markets due to the strict permitting of their shipment.

 

Provincial and city intervention

Mangcucang said as far as they are concerned, they want the total ban on the entry of live pigs, pork meat, and pork-based products to remain to protect the local swine industry from ASF.

Consumers are also at risk, he said, if ASF-infected hogs would be slaughtered and use as processed pork-based products.

The Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), he said, continues to encourage locals to raise hogs and continuously train to produce barangay veterinarians.

There are also artificial insemination activities conducted in all towns of the province to increase the number of hogs and other large animals like cows and carabaos.

Santiago, meanwhile, said that the city government is intervening through swine dispersal.

“Nagkaroon tayo ng proyekto ngayong taon pero syempre nag-umpisa pa lang na mag-grow, hindi pa naman ready to sell an gating mga na-disperse sa kanila. Ang iba pa ron ay gagawing inahin din para patuloy ang production natin na hindi tayo dependent sa labas. Kahit na taga-Puerto lang na nag-aalaga ay kaya rin nila pakainin ‘yong mga konsumidor ng Puerto,” she said.

 

Supply will reduce as long as there is ASF

“Mararanasan natin [ang kakulangan ng supply] kasi ako, personally, kung ako ang mag-forecast ay mga five years pa to eight years bago pa mag-stabilize ang ASF. Base sa pag-aaral o reports, hindi siya bumababa sa mga naapektuhan na area,” Santiago said.

She said that through government collaborative efforts with the hog raisers, four months would be long enough to stabilize the problem of pork meat supply from local producers.

“Pinagtutulungan nga natin na sana ma-augment natin ang ating mga pangangailangan, hindi lang sa Puerto kung hindi pati sa buong Palawan. Tina-target natin siguro na mahaba na siguro ang apat na buwan para ma-stabilize ang problema natin. May nagri-raise naman talaga ng baboy ngayon, ‘yong iba nga lang ay hindi pa talaga time for dispersal,” she said.

 

 

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