Food production is not expected to recover from various setbacks for another eight years, the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) said Friday.
The bleak outlook was the offshoot of the outbreak of several animal diseases as well as the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, PCAFI president Danilo Fausto said during a forum organized by the Management Association of the Philippines.
“In our 2030 outlook, pork production levels will have nearly recovered to pre-ASF (African Swine Fever) levels despite a slightly lower herd. The majority of pork production will come from large commercial farms, either contracted to or owned by slaughter groups,” Fausto said.
He noted an increasing trend toward integration by commercial farms to include feed production upstream and slaughtering and meat cutting downstream.
“Some of them will even integrate into retail and food service like meat shops, QSR (quick service restaurants) and online deliveries. The domestic production efficiency will be improved markedly, with the capacity of commercial producers to invest in technology and infrastructure,” Fausto said.
With money to invest, commercial farms will be at an advantage over small-hold and backyard raisers, in improving the average carcass weight, driven by modern genetics.
The top eight commercial pig growers or pork producers in the country are San Miguel Foods Inc., Charoen Pokphand Food Corp., Foremost Farm, Universal Robina Corp., Biotech Farm, Bounty Agro Venture, New Hope and Pilmico Animal Nutrition.
Unless backyard farms heed the advice of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to pool themselves into clusters, pig and pork production will be skewed in favor of commercial raisers at a ratio of 70 to 30.
In the near term, ASF is expected to remain in the Philippines, well into 2025, until a vaccine is developed to combat the virus.
While cold chain investments will increase dramatically in the next few years, the spike in investments will be due to the increasing volume of imports rather than domestic pork output.
“Imports will remain high due to lower prices, improved cold chain and consumers’ new habit to store and eat frozen meat. Pork imports will increase in order to meet the domestic demand. This will be facilitated by a relaxing of the current government position on imports in an effort to control retail prices,” Fausto added.
He warned consumers that pork production will be at its lowest in the second half of 2022, though they need not worry about scarcity, given the large volume of imported pork coming into the country.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said there were no problems with the availability of food during the pandemic, but the issue was affordability, especially for those whose livelihoods were disrupted by the public health crisis.
“There was notably no food shortage, despite the pandemic,” Dar said during the Philippine Economic Briefing.
Dar said the succeeding administration must pursue its own projects aimed at improving productivity and achieving sustainability.
“Philippine agriculture has a lot to make up for in significantly increasing productivity and achieving food security. We do this through a food systems approach, or making all aspects of governance and the economy work to assure food security,” Dar said.
“Our ASEAN neighbors allot 4 percent to 5 percent of their national budgets to agriculture. Based on our annual national budget, we are only at 1.7 percent. We continue the call for significant budgetary support, about triple the current budget, to realize gains over and beyond,” he added.
Dar said the government should ensure the completion of key agricultural infrastructure projects such as farm to market roads and agri-industrial business corridors.
“We strongly recommend fast-tracking farm consolidation, an inevitable, modernizing pillar in our reform agenda. We badly need economies of scale denied by the fragmentation of agricultural land,” he said.