AS the price cap on pork products goes on its second week, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan urges the Department of Agriculture to focus its initiatives to overcome the effects of the African swine flu (ASF) on backyard hog-raisers.
“We welcome DA’s P500 million worth of interest-free loans payable in three to five years, initially set aside by its Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) for backyard hog-raisers,” said the former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.
“But we also call for three things. Una, maging mas aggressive at proactive sa pag-rollout ng availment ng pautang na ito. Madalas kasi hindi alam ng maliit na magbababoy na merong mga ganitong magaan na pautang,” he said.
Secondly, Pangilinan asked that the lending process be made easier so that more small-scale hog-raisers can avail themselves of the credit facility.
“Kadalasan pumupunta na lang sa mga nag-fa-five-six ang mga kababayan natin kasi mas madaling umutang sa kanila. Dahil gipit, sa usurero kumakapit,” he said.
Thirdly, with P27 billion allocated for commercial hog-raisers, Pangilinan suggested a much bigger credit allocation for backyard hog-raisers.
“Kung ikukumpara sa nakalaang pautang para sa mga commercial hog-raisers, wala pang 2 percent ang bahagi ng para sa mga maliliit na magbababoy,” he said.
Citing the Bureau of Animal Industry’s swine inventory as of January 2018, Pangilinan said this credit allocation is disproportionate to the almost two heads produced by backyard hog-raisers for every head produced by commercial hog-raisers.
“Mas marami ang kanilang kontribusyon sa suplay ng baboy at mas kailangan ng maliliit nating kababayan ang ganitong pautang,” he said.
“Karamihan din sa ating mga magsasaka ang nag-aalaga ng baboy, manok at iba pang hayop para ma-supplement ang kinikita sa pagsasaka. Sila ang pangunahing makikinabang sa ganitong mga pautang ng gobyerno,” he said.
Pangilinan also noted that the P500-million credit facility for backyard hog-raisers is 60 percent less than the P800 million allocated for transportation assistance for both hog growers and traders who will deliver and sell their pork products to markets in Metro Manila.
In the launch of its twin programs of national hog repopulation and “Bantay sa ASF sa Barangay” over the weekend, DA announced that Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines are also allocating P15 billion and P12 billion, respectively, for lending to commercial hog-raisers.
DA also said its Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) is providing hog-raisers insurance coverage for ASF-culled hogs at P10,000 each.
The Philippine swine industry, which is worth about P200 billion a year, has been hit by the African swine flu (ASF) since 2019.
Aside from hog-raisers suffering from huge income losses as millions of their pigs are culled, consumers also have to deal with high pork prices.
Lack of supply has also affected traders and market vendors.
Pangilinan, who believes that agriculture can be an engine of growth, said farmers usually augment their income with hog-raising and poultry and have been affected by the ASF.
“Pag maganda ang kita ng ating mga magsasaka, mas gaganahan silang magtanim at mag-alaga ng hayop, mas dadami ang suplay sa palengke, mas mumura para ating mga mamimili, at mas lulusog tayo,” he said.