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DA sets food security summit on April 7-8

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has set the dates for the food security summit in the first week of April, which was called for by President Rodrigo Duterte to address issues hounding the country’s food industry.

In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV on Saturday, DA Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes said the National Food Security Summit will be held on April 7 and 8.

“Ito ay gagawing physical and virtual,” Reyes said, noting that the venue is still under discussion.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday said, “the Executive branch is calling for a Food Security Summit, with the Department of Agriculture (DA) as lead agency, to continue to boost and develop the agri-fishery sector through the cooperation, coordination and collaboration of the local government units (LGUs) and the private sector’s industry players and stakeholders.” 

Among the issues the summit seeks to address are the high prices of pork, the drop in farmgate prices of palay, and the onslaught of the African swine fever (ASF).

The call for a food security summit came after the Pork Producers’ Federation of the Philippines (ProPork) called on the government to conduct a nationwide dialogue to address the lack of pork and chicken supply that resulted in unabated increase of pork and chicken prices.

The lack of pork and chicken supply was exacerbated when vendors refused to sell their goods to avoid further losses as soon as the price ceiling imposed by the President took effect in the National Capital Region on February 8.

'No food crisis'

Despite calling for a food security summit, Reyes said that there is no food crisis in the country.

“Wala tayong krisis sa pagkain. Ang pinupunuan natin ay sa pork. Talagang may kakulangan tayo sa baboy dahil sa ASF,” he said.

“Ang ginagawa ng DA, ‘yung surplus areas, titignan ang surplus at ipadala sa Metro Manila na talagang may kakulangan. Tinamaan kasi ng ASF ang Central Luzon na major supplier ng baboy,” he added.

Independent think tank Ibon Foundation has claimed that the Philippines is now in the middle of a food security crisis, citing the decline in hog and chicken production last month.

Prices of pork in Metro Manila wet markets shot up to as much as P420 per kilo for liempo, and P400 per kilo for pigue and kasim last month as supply ran low due to the ASF.

To address the issue, Duterte imposed a price ceiling in Metro Manila for 60 days starting Feb. 8 upon the recommendation of the DA.

The price ceiling is P300 per kilo for liempo, P270 per kilo for kasim and pigue, and P160 per kilo for dressed chicken.

Apart from the price ceiling, the DA is also subsidizing the transportation cost of hogs to be shipped from various parts of the country to Metro Manila to retain their farmgate prices once these arrive in the region. —KG, GMA News