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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Smuggled frozen chicken meat
blamed for egg supply shortage

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The influx of smuggled frozen chicken meat is causing domestic farms to reduce poultry populations, resulting in lower supply levels and higher retail prices for eggs, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said. “The egg problem is partly an offspring of the chicken problem. Traders abusing prices appears to be the leading cause, but I cannot discount the fact that the decline in the population of chickens is also to blame for this,” he said.

“There is definitely a connection between ensuring that imported chicken meat tariffs are imposed and keeping our domestic egg sector viable. We can import frozen chicken meat, but eggs are much harder to import, so we need a good domestic supply base. So, we really need to stamp down the abuses in the trading sector, and to ensure that we have enough egg supply,” he stressed.

Irwan Ambal, Philippine Egg Board president, earlier said there was a 20-percent drop in the population of chicken layers in Luzon since January last year due to the avian flu outbreak.

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) earlier said the government has lost at least P15 billion in revenues in 2022 because of the entry of P25.4 billion worth of smuggled meat, of which frozen chicken meat accounted for P4 billion.

Sinag president Rosendo So urged the government to revive the pre-boarding inspection process for imported products to address the smuggling of agricultural products.

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Salceda, for his part, said the government must consider feed subsidies from tariff revenues from imported corn to support egg production.

He said the Department of Agriculture should also be more aggressive in its layer distribution programs.

“At any given time, you are looking at tariff revenues of P1.9 billion for corn imports. We could funnel that back to the egg and chicken meat production sector. I would say egg production is more important.

We can import chickens, but we can’t easily import eggs,” he emphasized.

To keep egg prices cheap would be “critical to fighting malnutrition,” he said, adding that eggs, per gram, are “the cheapest available source of protein for Filipino families.”

“So, it is a matter of urgent national importance that we act now on egg prices before farm gate prices begin to rise. Right now, it’s still mostly a trader issue, but if domestic chicken supply worsens,farmgate egg prices will rise, and that will be much harder to fight,” he said.

Meanwhile, Surigao del Sur Rep Romeo Momo Sr. urged the government to tap the agricultural resources of Mindanao to ensure a steady supply of onions and even garlic.

“Our province of Surigao del Sur and the large portion of Mindanao have very rich and fertile lands as well as good climate, which are greatly conducive to farming and other agri-production activities,” he said.

“I strongly believe that given due share on the national government’spriority in agriculture and rural development, Mindanao can address the shortage in onion and other farm products,” Momo said.

“With these, I would like to make an urgent appeal to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is also the head of the agriculture department, to likewise give focus on the great potential the Mindanao region can give in terms of our much-needed agri-production and food security measures,” he said.

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