POULTRY PRICES are expected to remain stable amid calamity conditions just south of Metro Manila, with a full eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas still not ruled out.

“I don’t expect much impact given that most of Batangas is not affected. (It is) limited to several towns near the volcano,” Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) Research Fellow Roehlano M. Briones said in a text message.

Batangas is part of the CALABARZON region, which also includes Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Quezon. The region is one of the top producers of chicken in the Philippines.

The national inventory of chicken at the start of 2019 was 186.37 million birds, up 6.03% year-on-year. Calabarzon had the second-largest population at about 24 million birds, consisting of 9.33 million broilers, 13.98 million layers, and 2.73 million native or improved varieties. Central Luzon topped the list at 31.764 million birds.

United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) Chairman Gregorio A. San Diego said that the impact of the activity at Taal is not yet being felt by the industry.

“We are still in the process of evaluating the situation but as far as farmgate prices are concerned, we have not felt any impact yet,” he said in a separate text message.

According to UBRA’s weekly monitoring, as of Jan. 10, the price of regular-sized chicken was P72.25 per kilo, down 9% week-on-week, while prime sized chicken averaged P73.67 per kilo, down 9% week-on-week.

Philippine National Bank (PNB) economist Jun Trinidad said in a note that food prices, specifically of chicken and hogs, as well as fish, may rise due to the calamity since the region is a significant contributor.

Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said that the increase in price will be tempered since there are other regions that can fill demand.

Taal Volcano emitted large volumes of ash on Jan. 12. Alert level 4 is still up, which means that a “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days” despite the weakening of the ash plume.

The ashfall in the area around Taal, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA), caused P577.39 million worth of agricultural damage, affecting around 2,772 hectares of land and 1,967 animals.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said that volcanic activity and associated earthquakes have caused P7.63 billion worth of economic damage in Batangas. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang