Risk subsidy for hog raisers eyed

The government is considering granting a 50 percent insurance subsidy for commercial hog raisers to further boost the pork supply in the country, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Tuesday.

The proposal was pitched during a Cabinet meeting led by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Nograles said in a virtual press conference.

Nograles said the subsidy would be sourced from the Department of Agriculture’s Quick Response Fund.

“One proposal being studied is an insurance subsidy of 50 percent for commercial hog raisers that utilize the quick response fund under the QRF of the Department of Agriculture. This is just one initiative being considered to help our hog farmers increase supply,” he said.

Following the adverse impact of African swine fever on the swine industry, Senator Francis Pangilinan on Feb. 19 called on the government to provide insurance to hog raisers.

In January, Agriculture Secretary William Dar urged backyard and commercial hog raisers to avail of insurance packages to help them recover from the effects of ASF.

The DA’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, the sole government agricultural insurance firm in the country, included ASF among the risks covered by its livestock insurance as early as 2019.

It grants insurance amounting to P10,000 per head of swine, on a premium payment of only 2.25 percent or P225, according to the statement posted by DA on its official website.

On the other hand, small backyard hog raisers listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture are given free insurance.

The insurance coverage is on top of the P5,000 worth of ASF indemnification claim for eligible beneficiaries.

The government continues to undertake measures to address the low supply and rising prices of pork products in the country, especially in Metro Manila.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Jan. 28 approved the designation of special hog lanes to ensure the unhampered shipment of pork products from Luzon.

Duterte on Feb. 1 also inked Executive Order 124, imposing a price ceiling of P270 per kilo for pork kasim and pigue, P300 per kilo for pork liempo, and P160 per kilo for dressed chicken.

Malacañang likewise announced on Feb. 17 that the government would allow the importation of pork products from abroad, in case the supply remains insufficient.

The DA is scheduled to hold a food security summit with local government units and the private sector to craft a plan on how to ensure food security in the country amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros has secured the commitment of the Department of Agriculture that it will consider recommending the revocation of a controversial price ceiling on pork and chicken products, as the agency agreed to explore better means to address rising food costs in the country.

During the recent Senate probe on the sharp rise in food prices across the country, DA Secretary William Dar and other agriculture officials confirmed that they will study recommending Malacañang to withdraw Executive Order 124, which imposed a 60-day price ceiling on pork and chicken products.

“We welcome the DA’s decision to closely review these price caps to see if they are helping consumers and vendors as intended.

Hontiveros noted that the price caps had been criticized by market vendors, farmers, economists and lawmakers for being unfeasible, as higher transportation costs for pork and chicken supplies make the mandated prices too low to be tenable. Instead of helping consumers, she said, the move has forced some vendors and traders to close their stalls to consumers altogether.

The senator said that the DA should look into more feasible and effective approaches to bringing down food prices and increasing food supplies in the country, such as expanding the number of hog raisers and suppliers covered by the insurance program of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC).

Hontiveros also urged the DA and other related agencies to act with more haste in formulating and implementing programs to deal with the rising costs of food products:

On the other hand, while appealing to traders to cooperate in the bayanihan efforts to mitigate rising food prices, Sen. Christopher Go urged authorities to provide long-term solutions towards food security

He called on the government to act swiftly to address the needs of less fortunate Filipinos amid rising food prices in the country.

He said: “(The year) 2020 has indeed been very challenging for our economy. Our country battled numerous calamities which affected the lives of the ordinary Filipino and limited our access to stable food supply. Unfortunately, this also led to a considerable increase in food prices.

“We cannot afford to impose additional burdens on ordinary Filipino families for they deserve quality, sufficient and nutritious food on their tables. After all, a progressive nation is founded on healthy and robust citizens.”

Go also appealed to Dar, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and the private sector to monitor the prices of food products and help each other in strengthening the country’s food security.

He likewise urged meat traders to comply with the government’s designated price ceiling for meat products.

He appealed to the government and the private sector to help each other so the country could easily recover from the challenges it is facing.

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