By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Imee Marcos said the Department of Trade and Industry’s suggested retail prices for food will remain a “fairy tale” due to animal disease and climatic conditions affecting hog and vegetable farmers in Luzon.
“The pervasive African swine fever (ASF) and frost damage to crops will make it hard for the DTI to keep the cost of pork and vegetables within SRPs,” Marcos said.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said high food prices will hit poor households the hardest because “about 60% of their budget is spent on food.”
“Creeping inflation is at a level not seen since March 2019. Food prices weigh heavily on the country’s inflation rate, which as of December is already at 3.5% and could rise further,” Marcos added.
Marcos urged the Department of Agriculture to give all the support it can to livestock and vegetable farmers in the Visayas and Mindanao, as Luzon seeks to prevent food shortages and higher market prices in coming weeks.
“Expect food prices to remain high. The transport and cold-chain costs of importing agricultural produce from the South will also inflate food prices in Metro Manila and throughout Luzon,” Marcos said.
“Imperial Manila is being humbled by ASF, which has hit some 70% of hog raisers in Luzon and has forced many of them to give up their business,” Marcos added.
“There is still no vaccine for ASF. The DA should redouble efforts to prevent contamination among hog raisers, most of whom are backyard farmers with less stringent animal health standards,” Marcos also said.
According to a wet market survey by Marcos’s office, Metro Manila pork prices have increased beyond the seasonal Christmas spike, from Php300 to Php360 per kilo to as high as Php380 to Php400 pesos, as of Tuesday.
Supermarket prices of pork were even higher, reaching as high as Php417 per kilo.
Although vegetable prices have eased since a November spike following a series of typhoons, “DTI’s monitoring of its SRPs continues to be lax,” Marcos said.
“Frost damage affecting vegetable production up North could again extend into late February,” Marcos added, recalling what happened in early 2019. (AI/MTVN)