THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking to increase the local production of livestock and poultry by five times in five years, which will minimize the need for food imports.
The DA said on Saturday that this would also raise farmers’ profits and lower the price of livestock and poultry products, ensuring the availability of protein sources for consumers.
“Recommendations from various sectors of our agriculture are currently being heard and studied on what, where, and how government actions are to be applied to boost our poultry sector,” Agriculture Undersecretary Deogracias Victor Savellano said during the Poultry Forum 2023 on September 27.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that in 2022, the Philippines produced 2.14 million metric tons (MT) of livestock commodities, while the poultry sector produced 2.6 million MT the same year.
Savellano said they have started meeting livestock and poultry stakeholders to strategize priorities to increase local production while making the industries efficient, robust and profitable.
“We will find ways to produce more to lessen importations. By consulting with livestock associations on how much each sector can produce, [we will know] the actual demand. It will be the consideration in determining the minimal quantity of imports,” he said.
According to the DA, chicken meat importation had consistently risen from 45.77 million kilos in 2008 to 67.26 million in 2009 and from 101.957 million in 2010 to 411.069 million in 2022.
The importation led to a loss in local production totaling P58.286 billion or equivalent to 299.366 million broilers, said United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) Chairman Gregorio San Diego.
The DA said this brought opportunity losses for the local poultry industry, adding that it aims to reverse these losses into gains.
Also displaced were 315.122 million day-old broilers amounting to P9.138 billion and 2.52 million broiler breeders valued at P756.294 million.
Meanwhile, lost sales from byproducts such as head, feet, intestine and blood totaled P5.987 billion.
San Diego also said other areas that were affected due to importation and loss were feeds at P4.877 billion in sales and lost feeds ingredient sales at P11.89 billion for corn, P8.154 billion for soya, P4.478 billion for coconut oil, and P1.132 billion for rice bran.
Likewise, opportunity losses for veterinary products and dressing plants were estimated at P3.62 billion and P2.99 billion, respectively.
To address excessive importation, the DA identified strategies it would adopt to raise local production, including merging livestock with feeds development as well as working with the programs for corn, seaweed and other high-value crops.
“We have to focus on feeds as we cannot grow livestock without it. We want RFO 4-A to transition its focus from sugarcane to corn,” said Savellano, referring to the DA’s regional field office in Calabarzon.
The DA also said it will seek low-interest loan packages from the Land Bank of the Philippines and an increased share of livestock in the Philippine Rural Development Program and other foreign-funded projects. It added that the present share of livestock and poultry’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product remains low.
Moreover, Savellano said the DA seeks to strengthen an indemnification program for animals infected with diseases, among others.
“We must have an indemnification program where it will be attractive for farmers to report ASF (African swine fever) or AI (avian influenza) outbreaks in their farms. Now, nobody is reporting. We need to fund this program,” he added.