DA: Local production sufficient amid poultry imports drop

Poultry products displayed in the wet market
Courtesy: DA Communications Group

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the apparent drop of poultry products import due to pandemic measures shows that local production is sufficient to meet national demand.

“It is the department’s commitment to raise the productivity of the country’s poultry sector. I have always emphasized our goal to increase local food production, poultry included. We will, in every step of the way, assist our local raisers in whatever way we can,” DA Secretary William Dar said.

Dar said the DA will continuously boost the local poultry industry as it implements a national livestock program under the bigger umbrella program, popularly called ‘Plant, Plant, Plant.’

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reported the volume of poultry meat imports declined by 23 percent, from 43,000 tons in January 2020 to 33,000 tons in May.

Of the total imports, 70 percent was composed of mechanically deboned meat, fats, offals, and rinds used by industrial processors, according to BAI’s National Veterinary Quarantine Services Division. A raw material for meat processors, the mechanically deboned meat is unavailable locally.

Dar mentioned “the imported poultry products are used by meat processing and manufacturing firms, and do not compete in the wet market, where our local producers bring their fresh products.”

Government measures to curb coronavirus’ spread has caused a decline in demand for poultry products, resulting in oversupply, BAI Director Ronnie Domingo said.

“The lockdown has created tremendous trade limitations among producers, retailers, and consumers. There were partial operation or full closure of local businesses, causing loss of income of consumers,” Domingo said.

“Hence, we immediately looked into addressing the surplus in poultry supply. Related to this situation, the DA’s National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) reported that aside from accredited cold storage facilities, excess meat is being stored in plug-in refrigerated vans which can be considered as food safety risk,” Domingo said.

Dar said they are strengthening the system to secure the cold storage facilities and to prevent excess meat being stored in un-accredited systems.

“We understand the plight of the local poultry industry. That is why we have pursued constant dialogues with key industry leaders since the start of the imposition of the quarantine measures in the country,” Dar added.

BAI plans to reinvigorate the local poultry industry. In the short term, a new delivery system will be developed under the new normal as it continues to consult industry stakeholders.

“Let us find ways to ease the current problems besetting the sector due to the community quarantine restrictions and over-zealousness of some local government units that hinder free movements of farm inputs, equipment, products, and workers, including drivers, to and from farms to markets,” Dar said.

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