Politics

Pork producers urge patriots: Help farmers, buy Filipino

MANILA, Philippines — The federation of the largest pork-producing groups in the country pleaded with Filipinos to help revive the agricultural sector that has been devasted under the Duterte administration.

“Local pork is cleaner, fresher, and tastier,” the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines said in one of its posts on social media. “For every kilo you buy, you’re helping a farmer.”

The Philippines is the world’s eighth top producer of pork and the 10th largest consumer, the federation said, but pork meat production is expected to decline to 1.14 million metric tons (MT) this year against the 2020 level of 1.61 million MT.

But the government failed to address the African swine fever in time, prompting a price uptick that President Rodrigo Duterte tried to solve by cutting tariffs on pork imports.

Double whammy

The consequential increase in pork imports caused heavy financial losses to hog raisers, most of whom are backyard farmers, as well as to corn planters who supply local hog feed makers.

It was also a double whammy for corn planters, many of whom had just shifted to the crop after the Duterte administration also cut tariffs on rice imports.

If these were not enough, quarantine restrictions also had a detrimental impact on the incomes of small farmers.

But Rolando Tambago, the federation’s president, refused to linger on the negativity and expressed faith that Filipinos can hurdle these troubled times with help from their fellow Filipinos.

“We started this campaign because we saw how our local pork industry struggled in the past months,” Tambago said.

“As a leader of the 48 pork-producing affiliate groups in the country, it is our responsibility to protect our industry especially our local hog raisers, farmers, and other allied partners in the supply chain,” he added.

Turning to poultry

Local raisers are slowly migrating to poultry production where the risk is relatively lower compared to raising hogs, while others have decided to downscale their livestock operations to trim losses.

Tambago said all these are worsened by the slowdown in consumer spending because of economic straits caused by the pandemic and he feared that this may further discourage local hog raisers to continue with their operations.

Initially launched in September last year, the social media campaign highlights the benefits of consuming local pork products that are usually brought straight to the markets after slaughter, and are mostly fresh and have high nutritional content.

These are also often used for “lechon” or whole roasted pigs—a classic and famous Filipino dish served in important gatherings or festivals.

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