By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — For decades now, the Philippines’s livestock industry has received limited attention and developmental assistance from the government as such, Senator Cynthia Villar has renewed her pitch to give it a boost.
“The livestock sector comprising of cattle, hogs, poultry, and dairy should be able to guarantee food security and reduce poverty in the countryside by giving better income and jobs to farmers and their families,” said Villar. The sector’s development can improve the availability and affordability of safe and nutritious livestock, poultry and dairy products for the 110 M Filipinos, she added.
The senator, chairperson of the Senate committed to agriculture, food, and agrarian reform noted that this sector’s issues and problems should be addressed. This prompted her to seek the help of the Department of Finance to conduct a study on the competitiveness of the country’s livestock sector to be the basis of the draft bill. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) reported their findings during the hearing.
There are several bills related to this matter, which include Senate Bill No. 139 authored by her and Sen. Nancy Binay, which seeks to strengthen and rationalize the livestock industry to promote its development, protection, and regulatory functions. This shall cover dairy and native animals, poultry, and the establishment of a livestock development fund to secure yearly government support.
Their proposed measure, along with Senate Bill 1297 filed by Sen. Lito Lapid, Villar said, will further boost the country’s capacity for early detection and preventive response to livestock diseases.
“The government’s thrust must be that of early detection and control of the disease to prevent it from reaching the level of an outbreak and from spreading across entire regions,” she added.
Moreover, Senate Bill 821 of Sen. Sonny Angara as in Villar’s bill calls for the propagation and utilization of Native Animals. Senator Ralph Recto’s SB No.1048 is for providing financial assistance to backyard raisers affected by the major animal disease epidemic while SB 2176 of Sen. Pangilinan is for the establishment of swine competitiveness enhancement fund.
“The African Swine Fever which hit the industry in 2019 which resulted in the culling of thousands of pigs, wiping out entire farms and growers and local governments frantically imposing entry bans for all pork and pork-related or commingled products from disease-stricken areas. The outbreak adversely affected the 260 Billion-peso swine industry of the country,” pointed out Villar.
The NEDA’s presentation emphasized that yellow corn is the main component of animal feed production and the main driver of livestock and poultry prices. The yellow corn industry and animal feed promotion and propagation have to be considered in crafting the development of the sector as well, like substituting corn with high protein vegetables as livestock feeds.
The Department of Agriculture should have agencies for regulatory and disease control and development at the same time. Both are very important in supporting the livestock, poultry, and dairy industry.
The senator believes that given the right investments and resources, proper implementation, and transparency, the agriculture, and food systems can provide adequate, affordable, safe, and nutritious food to everyone, everywhere, every day – even in times of crisis,” stressed the senator. (ai/mtvn)