DOMESTIC chicken production is currently sufficient to meet demand, after a sharp drop in May poultry imports due to trade disruptions caused by the pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

In a statement, the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said that the volume of poultry meat imports fell 23% to 33,000 metric tons (MT) in May, significantly lower than the 43,000 MT posted in January.

According to the BAI, around 70% of total poultry imports were composed of items produced industrially such as mechanically deboned meat, fat, offal, and rinds.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the DA’s commitments include boosting the productivity of the Philippine poultry sector.

“I have always emphasized our goal to increase local food production, poultry included. We will, in every step of the way, assist our local raisers in whatever way we can,” Mr. Dar said.

The DA said it has implemented a national livestock program (NLP), which aims to strengthen the industry.

“The NLP is a multi-million-peso package to support the recovery of the country’s livestock and poultry industry, amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and ensure the production and supply of safe, affordable, and adequate food for Filipinos,” the DA said.

BAI Director Dr. Ronnie D. Domingo said that the oversupply of poultry products is due to the decline in demand, after the government implemented the lockdown.

“The lockdown has created tremendous trade limitations among producers, retailers, and consumers. There were partial operations or full closure of local businesses, causing loss of income for consumers,” Mr. Domingo said.

Mr. Domingo said that the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) has reported that aside from accredited cold storage facilities, excess meat was stored in plug-in refrigerated vans, which can be considered a food safety risk.

As a result, Mr. Dar has directed the NMIS to secure the cold storage facilities and prevent excess meat from being stored in unaccredited cold storage systems.

“We understand the plight of the local poultry industry. That is why we have pursued constant dialogues with key industry leaders since the start of the imposition of the quarantine measures in the country,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave