Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

DA pushes against 2022 global inflation with price management strategies

Author: DA Press Office | 28 January 2022

The continuing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will further squeeze consumers’ purchasing power putting pressure on food production costs and global food supply chain.

“The agriculture sector this year will confront global challenges, such as other countries stockpiling fertilizers and fuel prices going up,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar cautioned.

He added that the country will have to cope with rising consumer prices with the rest of the world stressing that local balanced measures to ensure affordability for food consumers are all the more urgent.

Global food prices marked record highs during the pandemic, with the United Nations Index revealing a 28-percent (%) rise, from grains to meat, in the last two years. Record levels of food inflation were last seen in 2011.

Labor shortages in transport and high freight costs have further grounded goods, especially during recent surges in Covid-19 infections in most countries. The rise of vaccine mandates among the largest global economic players is also seen to compound mobility issues among workers. Already, talks of obligatory vaccinations have ignited political turmoil in some countries.

In 2021, Philippine agriculture suffered in the hands of typhoons, with Typhoon Odette in the fourth quarter being the most destructive. African Swine Fever (ASF) remains a conundrum with no commercialized vaccine in sight. The porcine disease dragged down growth in the livestock subsector by a low of 16%.

Such destructive forces will likely force total agriculture output into a contraction in 2021 and of its original target of 2% growth, analysts predict.

Balancing acts, food mobilizations, capacitation of FCAs

Secretary Dar issued a directive to the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Offices (DA-RFOs) to keep up food mobilization from food surplus provinces to major metropolitan markets.

“We are enhancing production in areas and provinces around Metro Manila, such as Central Luzon, and creating a quadrant of food baskets around NCR,” he said.

He added that RFOs have been tasked to empower farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) to directly export their surplus fruits and vegetables to metro areas.

The DA is on a firm path to galvanize FCAs as more powerful players in the supply chain. Secretary Dar likewise directed DA units to prioritize FCA capacitation through capitalization and provision of agri-machinery and equipment.

FCA inclusion in the supply chain can also foster competition and discourage price increases in the supply of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers.

Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita, the direct marketing program of DA, will intensify movements of frozen pork from arrival to public markets to clamp down more heavily on the price-padding tendencies of traders. More FCAs will be granted reefer vans.

The DA has consistently maintained importation as a policy of last resort in the event local production levels in basic food commodities come up substantially short against demand.

Secretary Dar cites the current inflation outlook as the current driver of importation.

“We have to make affordable basic food items for the large Filipino consuming public who get more than 50% of their protein source from pork and 30% from fish,” he said.

Meat inflation soared to as much as 17% in 2021, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) report on inflation. Fish inflation also contributed to 2021 headline inflation by as much as 8%.

More inspired hog repopulation efforts

The DA’s Bantay Presyo monitoring group reports that January prices of frozen pork kasim/pigue ranged from P200 to P260/kg, settling at a usual price of P220/kg. Frozen liempo prices generally hovered at P280/kg, with a low of P240/kg.

Frozen pork is sold at around half of the wet markets in the metro at prices significantly lower by about P120-P160/kg. Supermarkets like Waltermart and Metro have also been selling imported, frozen pork well within reduced prices.

Retail prices of fresh pork have ranged from P340/kg for kasim and P380/kg for liempo, respectively, in the first two weeks of January.

To relieve local hog supply of deficits due to ASF in 2022, Secretary Dar is banking on the intensification of hog repopulation efforts of the government.

DA is also looking at providing incentives for hog raisers, including the provision of income tax holidays for the next three to five years for participating companies.

“Hog repopulation is really key this year, as we pounce on the declining cases of ASF and time it with research and technological solutions,” he said. ### (Frances Mae Ramos, DA-Stratcomms)

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