THE Department of Agriculture (DA) projected that there will be a shortage of pork in the country by the end of the year.

In a food supply outlook released on Friday, the DA estimated that by the end of 2020, the country will not have enough pork for 43 days. It also recommended switching to poultry meat as a source of protein in response to the projection.

“For the country’s protein requirements, we have enough supply of poultry products that can fulfil the potential shortage of pork supply,” the DA said.

However, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Dr. Ronnie D. Domingo said that right now the supply of pork supply is adequate to meet the country’s requirements.

“We have actually refocused our agency budgets to support swine production in African Swine Fever-free areas,” Mr. Domingo said in a mobile phone message.

The DA earlier reported that the country’s meat supply remains stable amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to the DA, commercial hog raisers said there is an oversupply at the moment, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. They added that their cold storage facilities are brimming with pork, and there may even be no need to import this year.

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) said that the current oversupply can be credited to the low demand.

SINAG said that the businesses that usually order pork products, such as restaurants, food chains, and resorts, are closed due to the enhanced community quarantine.

“The excess pork products in the Visayas and Mindanao regions must be transported to Luzon,” SINAG said in a mobile message.

The DA regularly interacts with swine industry stakeholders to address issues, particularly the recent African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks in several areas nationwide.

“While ASF is being controlled in affected areas, the DA is supporting chicken, ducks, and small ruminant production to augment possible sources of protein,” Mr. Domingo said.

On the other hand, the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. (ProPork) said that the current supply of pork has already been less than normal.

“We are beginning to feel the crunch as some parts of Central Luzon have already less than normal supply of pork even with the enhanced community quarantine,” ProPork President Edwin G. Chen said in a mobile phone message.

Mr. Chen added that a lot of farms, even if they were ASF free, opted to sell their pigs due to the fear of their animals getting infected with the disease.

“We will have an uneven supply of pork in the country. Some areas will have shortages while some will experience an oversupply,” Mr. Chen said.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar encouraged consumers to shift to alternative sources of protein like chicken, ducks, eggs, and processed meat products due to the contraction in the pork supply.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dar assured that there is ample food supply in the Philippines amid the extension of the enhanced community quarantine to May 15.

“At the end of December, we will have rice supply good for 94 days; corn, good for 234 days; fish, good for two days; vegetables, good for six days; and chicken, good for 253 days,” Mr. Dar said.

In a briefing with President Rodrigo R. Duterte last Thursday, Mr. Dar said that the country’s rice outlook is positive and adequate despite the extension of the lockdown.

Mayroon po tayong sapat na pagkain (We have enough food in the country),” Mr. Dar said.

He said that the country’s rice demand is at 14.6 million metric tons (MT) while the committed supply is at 17.9 million MT.

Mr. Dar also reported that despite the extension of the enhanced community quarantine, the agricultural sector will operate at an optimum level while all agricultural personnel are practicing the necessary quarantine measures such as physical distancing and sanitary protocols.

“We remain hopeful for better projections in the coming days as we also implement projects to boost local production, under our Plant, Plant, Plant Program or the Ahon Lahat, Pagkain Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave