THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday that it is validating projections of a pork shortage in April, saying it is trying to reconcile government data with input from the hog industry.

DA Deputy Spokesman Rex C. Estoperez said it will have a clearer picture of the supply situation later in March.

“The negative (figures) are cumulative on a month-to-month basis. We have to verify at the end of March together with the data of stakeholders (to) come up with the validated figure,” Mr. Estoperez said in a briefing.

According to data presented by the DA’s National Livestock Program on Thursday, the Philippines is expected to experience a shortfall in the supply of domestic pork in April of at least 56,180 metric tons (MT), against demand of 145, 849 MT.

According to Mr. Estoperez, the projections do not take into account the inventory of imported pork. He said a validated shortage will trigger discussions on the need to import.

“If we have the final figure then we can say (how much volume we need to import). For now, we cannot declare (a shortage) as it is not the final figure,” he said.

Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. President Rolando E. Tambago urged the Bureau of Animal Industry to review protocols for mitigating African Swine Fever.

In a statement, Mr. Tambago said that the standard response to an outbreak — culling swine within a 500-meter radius — was “counterproductive” because it also affects healthy pigs.

He said that the method would encourage farmers to dispose of their hogs to traders at a discount, including infected animals.

“They’ve been observing this protocol for more than three years, yet the disease continues to spread,” he said.

According to DA monitoring reports on Monday, the retail price of pork belly (liempo) was between P340 and P420 per kilo, while pork shoulder (kasim) was between P270 and P350. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera