PHILIPPINES – Pig and poultry farms in Pangasinan are calling for a halt to imports in order to improve the country’s self-sufficiency in pork and chicken products.

Hog and poultry raisers in Pangasinan have called on the government to stop the importation of agricultural products in 2011, saying the imports were hindering the country’s effort to attain food self-sufficiency, according to Inquirer of the Philippines.

Rosendo So, vice president of the National Hog and Poultry Raisers Association of the Philippines, said the government should instead provide more support for stakeholders in the agricultural sector to attain food self-sufficiency.

He said: “Farmers, hog raisers and poultry growers are vital contributors to the food basket of our country.”

He added that the importation of agricultural products, particularly rice, chicken and pork, has steadily increased since 2005.

For chicken alone, he said, the volume that entered the country increased by 71 per cent from 2005 to 2010.

“This year alone, the government allowed the importation of 97,197,041 kilograms of chicken, which [represents] about 31 per cent increase from the 67,264,871 kilograms in 2009,” Mr So said.

He said the steep increase in the level of pork importation has alarmed hog raisers.

This year, he said, pork importation is 71 per cent higher than the 2005 level.

“Pork importation this year is 34 per cent higher than the 114,365,159 kilograms imported in 2009,” Mr So said.

He said feed requirements for locally grown hog and chicken are shouldered by farmers. But in other countries, he said, governments support their farmers, making their products cheaper.

Mr So said: “For example, when input costs went up, [foreign governments] gave their farmers [subsidies] so corn can be sold at six pesos [PHP] a kilogramme. Here in our country, the price of corn is PHP12 a kilogramme because the government does not extend price support to our farmers.

“Since hog feed is more expensive in the Philippines, the price of local pork is also more expensive than imported pork.”

He told Inquirer the continuing increase in the volume of imported rice, pork and chicken has been a drain on the coffers of the national government and has not helped in improving the food production capacity of the country.

“This means that we are patronizing the products of farmers, hog raisers and poultry growers from foreign countries to the detriment of the local [industry],” he said.

Mr So said the government should allocate the money meant for importation to support the input requirements of local farmers, hog raisers and poultry growers.

“The money used to import rice, for example, should be used instead to support our farmers in the form of fertilisers, insecticides, seedlings, irrigation and other services,” Mr So told the newspaper.

Information from PoultrySite

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