By Mark Angelo Mañez

PHOTO: Philippines Lifestyle

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is open to raising the price ceiling of pork products, as it studies suggestions from the pork sector.

In an interview on “The Chiefs” aired on Cignal’s One News, Agriculture Assistant Secretary and spokesman Noel Reyes said the DA is open to raising the price ceiling of pork to around P310 to P340 per kilo.

Under Executive Order 124, the government imposed a 60-day price ceiling that limits the price of pork shoulder or kasim at P270 per kilo, pork belly or liempo at P300 and chicken at P160 in Metro Manila markets.

The EO took effect on Feb. 8 and will last until April 8.

Reyes said the proposal to raise the price ceiling is being studied by the DA’s livestock, Bantay Presyo and agribusiness marketing groups.

Earlier, the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines (ProPork) urged the government to raise the price ceiling of pork as it will encourage hog raisers to resume production.

Also, economists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños had urged the government to remove the price ceiling on pork, emphasizing that it will not address supply and cost issues in Metro Manila.

“We will review where we are now on the third week of the implementation of the price ceiling,” Reyes said in English and Filipino.

Based on market monitors yesterday, the prevailing price of pork shoulder or kasim is P300 per kilo, the same price for pork belly or liempo.

Meanwhile, Reyes said the DA is also proposing to raise the insurance coverage for fatterners of commercial hog raisers from P5,000 to P10,000.

“That is in the insurance coverage. We are fixing the guidelines at the PCIC (Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.) Board,” Reyes said.

“We are just waiting for the decision of the President. The Secretary (William Dar) already proposed this to the Cabinet, (we’re still) waiting for the approval,” he said.

In a statement late Wednesday,the DA announced that the PCIC has relaxed conditions for paying hog raisers for their losses under its insurance program for hogs, in a bid to revitalize hog production amid the ASF epidemic.

“The PCIC Board of Directors approved the DA proposal to pay losses resulting from government-ordered culling or slaughter of insured hogs, and raise the payable amount up to 100 percent of the insurance cover or the total sum insured,” the DA said.

It added that standard insurance industry policy does not include government-ordered disposal of stocks when epidemics occur among the compensable risks. The DA said indemnity payments are normally pegged at a maximum of 60 percent of total sum insured.

“Bold policy actions are needed in periods of adversity like the hog industry is in now, and we thank the PCIC for this quick response that sends the message the DA and its family of agencies are here to help our stakeholders, particularly the hog industry, build resilience and sustainability,” Dar said.

The DA said the move is expected to help encourage the raising of over 10 million heads of swine among commercial and backyard raisers. The stocks to be insured will be a mix of fatterners and breeders.

Backyard hog raisers currently receive free insurance, provided they are listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture, the country’s database of bona fide subsistence farmers and fisherfolk.

“These enhanced insurance policy features for hogs will remain in place until such time that the industry shall have stabilized or a vaccine or other veterinary solutions will have been developed for ASF,” the DA said.

In line with the DA policy on biosafety, the PCIC will require commercial and backyard raisers to adhere to prescribed biosafety protocols.

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