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Agri dep’t says pork production trending upward

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said its outlook on pork production remains positive, contrary to more pessimistic forecasts issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“(The) growth rate for pork… has started to become positive (continuing from) the last quarter of 2022. It’s positive and continued in the first quarter, mas higit pa (deeper into positive territory),” Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla told reporters on Thursday.

Hog production rose 5.1% year on year to 437.99 thousand metric tons (MT) during the first quarter, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The rise reverses a 1.2% drop a year earlier and outpaces the 3.4% gain in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The USDA downgraded its Philippine pork output forecast by 5.13% to 925,000 metric tons (MT), citing the continuous spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) in top-producing regions.

Ms. Sombilla said there is a chance production will revert to pre-ASF levels soon.

The Philippines was first hit by ASF in July 2019. The volume of hog production in 2018 was 2.3 million MT. Production was 1.74 million MT in 2022, according to the PSA.

“We’re hoping that all the programs that are being implemented now are going to be implemented well and be successful,” she said.

Among the programs implemented by the DA and its agencies is the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion program — a repopulation program established in 2021.

“We hope that continues and it goes back to the point that we will be able to get that production level that we had before. That’s probably the time we will be seeing prices to go down but then again you have to take into consideration also the fluctuation in other inputs,” she said.

When asked about the increase in the price of corn, which is used as animal feed, she said “We cannot do anything, that is what the market dictates so we cannot really do anything.” — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

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