SEARCA, DA to develop PH processed pork roadmap

Some 50 multisector stakeholders from relevant government agencies, private sector, key livestock industry players and the academe participated in the recently conducted online inception workshop for the development of the Philippine Processed Pork Roadmap (PPPR) with a policy roundtable discussion.

Spearheaded by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the workshop is part of the technical assistance to the Philippines of the Agricultural Transformation and Market Integration in the Asean Region: Responding to Food Security and Inclusiveness Concerns (ATMI-Asean) project.

Asean stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

ATMI-Asean is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and implemented by the International Food Policy Research Institute and SEARCA. The workshop was facilitated by the Philippine roadmap development team and the ATMI-Asean project support unit.

Dr. Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, noted the timeliness and relevance of this initiative given how the agriculture sector took the frontline during the global crisis, stressing how crucial the workshop and roundtable discussions would be, as a wide range of stakeholders in the agriculture value chain are being engaged in the process of formulating the national roadmap for processed pork, a highly consumed commodity.

Bureau of Animal Industry director Dr. Reildrin Morales, representing Agriculture Secretary William Dar, reiterated the timeliness of this initiative to elevate the gains of Filipino farmers, particularly those in the hog industry who were affected by African swine fever (ASF).

Morales noted that despite the transfer of regulation of the meat processing industry to the Food and Drug Administration under the Food Safety Act of 2013, the industry, in general, remains to be one of the major importers, making it a "vibrant stakeholder" of the DA.

The DA said the output of the livestock sector will have a steady market that can spur growth and expansion of local production, thereby meeting the expanded local demand if locally grown animals like hogs meet the meat processors' requirements.

Morales said the outputs of the inception workshop will include much-needed recommendations for policy consideration and workable strategies and programs for the sector that can be sustained throughout the identified span of the roadmap being developed.

The final output of the SEARCA-DA collaboration is the PPPR intended to supplement the DA's Hog Industry Roadmap being developed, whose highlights titled "Rebooting the Philippine Hog Industry, 2022-2027," were presented by Dr. Ruth Miclat-Sonaco, DA-National Livestock Program and DA-Agricultural Training Institute International Training Center on Pig Husbandry director.

The inception report presented to the stakeholders in attendance was prepared by the roadmap development team led by Jewel Joanna Cabardo, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) assistant professor and agribusiness value chain expert, with Nohreen Ethel Manipol, UPLB assistant professor and commodity expert; Leilani Briosos-Mc Donough, industry expert and private sector representative; and Riomara Laguerta, research assistant.

The team shared with the stakeholders the participatory approach to be used and the proposed activities for the successful development of the PPPR.

Also discussed were policy issues and recommendations arising from the SEARCA value chain study conducted in 2019 by the UPLB research team led by assistant professor Cenon Elca, to solicit insights from the stakeholders on identified issues and update the study's recommendations on ASF and Covid-19 impacts on the processed pork-based products value chain.

In his synthesis, Dr. Roehlano Briones, Philippine Institute for Development Studies senior research fellow and ATMI-Asean national road mapping exercise lead technical consultant, said focusing on the smallholders' participation remains to be the challenge in the development of the PPPR.

Briones noted the country's large importation of pork and is optimistic that the roadmap being developed will help smallholders expand their market upon meeting requirements of the processed pork industry.

He said the roadmap will encourage the processed pork industry to reach out and actively engage with the smallholders with support from various entities such as government agencies and private companies.

Dr. Pedcris Orencio, SEARCA Research and Thought Leadership program head and principal investigator of the ATMI-Asean project, thanked the stakeholders for their active participation that will help ensure smallholders' participation in the process to achieve inclusive and greater impacts from the standpoint of development.