FOOD PRODUCERS said they are unable to meet production requirements due to transport and feed supply problems.
At a virtual forum Monday, Finfish Hatcheries, Inc. Assistant Vice-President Renato B. Bocaya said hatcheries are currently only able to produce less than half of the requirement for milkfish (bangus) fry.
“Just to give you an idea, the national demand for milkfish fry is about 2.7 billion. However, hatcheries are can only fulfill about 1 billion… maybe around 200 million we’re getting from the wild. The remainder we import, mainly from Indonesia,” Mr. Bocaya said at a virtual media roundtable hosted by food security group Tugon Kabuhayan.
Christopher Tan of Oroseas Aquaventure, Inc. and MLDT Aquaculture said feed is also getting harder to come by, causing production problems. “Some growers stopped raising bangus due to insufficient supply of feed. We believe that’s the main problem now,” Mr. Tan said.
According to National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc. President Chester Y. Tan, transport liking the production areas in the south to markets in Luzon are a major issue.
“We know Mindanao is the food basket of the Philippines. The hog industry has been hit by a double whammy — we had to deal with the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak and also COVID-19,” Mr. Tan said. “Right now, the biggest challenge we are facing is on the transportation side, particularly in delivering our products from the Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon. Half of our production has encountered problems in transportation.”
“We hope the new government will study the procurement of transport vehicles such as vessels and trucks because for the past years, for the past decades, the private sector has been handling it. We should replicate what other countries are doing such as providing subsidies; they have their own government-owned vehicles, even vessels,” he added.
Value of production in agriculture declined by 2.6% in the third quarter of 2021, due to a drop in crop, livestock and fisheries production. Livestock production contracted by 15.2%, while crop and fisheries production dropped by 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively.
Meanwhile, aquaculture producers in Taal Lake urged the government to reduce imports.
“All we ask is for the next administration to ensure ease of doing business and to stop excessive fish imports,” Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance, Inc. spokesperson Adrienne B. Nera said.
“We ask for very little help, but don’t give importers unfair advantage over Filipino producers,” Tugon Kabuhayan moderator Asis G. Perez added.
Mr. Perez also said assistance from the government is key to recovering from the pandemic.
“It is one of our strengths especially in times of difficulty. Although our local industries are robust and growing, they still need government support in creating food security policies to ensure sustainable development,” Mr. Perez said.
“We want to give credit to our farmers and local industries who still continue to produce and expand, despite the challenges of COVID-19 and rising imports,” he added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson