The prices of pork are so high in Metro Manila, it now costs around the same as beef.
To remedy this, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be boosting weekly pork supply from the Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon to 30,000 starting next week.
As of October 27, the prevailing price for ham stood at P300 per kilo, while it is P320 per kilo for pork belly, according to the DA.
To compare, beef costs around P300 to P380 per kilo.
In January, pork prices were just around P190 to P250 per kilo.
"We will elevate our partnerships with hog producers and traders, ship owners and operators, and local government officials in Visayas and Mindanao to supply Metro Manila and Luzon with hogs and frozen pork, and eventually bring down prices for the benefit of consumers," said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
Pork will be sourced from the cities of Davao, General Santos, and Cagayan de Oro.
The scheme would be done up to the end of the year, when pork consumption is expected to rise due to the holidays.
Dar said there is dwindling supply of pork in Luzon due to African swine fever (ASF), as well as transportation problems amid the coronavirus crisis.
"This is a problem of logistics, including sourcing, distribution, and marketing, which we can address without difficulty. All we ask is the full cooperation of key players in the entire hog industry value chain," Dar said.
The DA earlier allowed the importation of pork and pork semen from Belgium to help tame prices.
A ban had been imposed in 2018 when ASF hit Belgium. The ban was kept even if Belgium has been ASF-free since the middle of 2019.
The DA likewise proposed to temporarily stop sending pork from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao to lower prices and control ASF.
But groups like the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) warned this would push pork prices higher.
"It is most ironic that the DA remains ambivalently strict in the movement of local agriculture products in the country, but continues to allow the unhampered entry of agricultural imports," SINAG Chairperson Rosendo So said. – Rappler.com