THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said Monday that pig farmers in the Visayas and Mindanao will receive subsidies on their shipping costs when they send their products to Metro Manila, to expanded supply base for pork and head off a brewing inflation crisis.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the DA will provide hog raisers in Mindanao a transport subsidy of P21 per kilo, with the aim of ultimately bringing down the price upon landing in Metro Manila to about P165.

“What was discussed is that with pork sold at P144 per kilo at farmgate for live hogs, landed price in Metro Manila should be P165 per kilo, (factoring in) the DA’s transport assistance,” he said in a televised briefing.

Hog raisers in the Visayan islands will receive a transport subsidy of P15 per kilo, while those in other parts of Luzon will receive a transport subsidy of P10 per kilo, he said.

The supply of animals on Luzon has been greatly reduced due to an outbreak of African Swine Fever, which has killed outright hogs where the disease has been detected while triggering a cull of many more animals to contain the spread of the disease. The government has responded by seeking volume from farmers beyond the nearby provinces which are the capital’s typical source of supply.

According to the DA’s price monitoring report, the price of pork shoulder, or kasim, in Metro Manila markets fell to about P270 per kilogram on Monday from P350 Friday, while pork belly, or liempo, fell to P330 per kilo from the estimated Friday average of P380.

Mr. Dar said the transport subsidy will be distributed by DA’s regional field offices.

The DA will fast-track the processing of the required documents to facilitate the unhampered passage of pork products, he said.

In a separate briefing, the President’s Spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said hog raisers in Southern Cotabato have committed to sending 10,000 hogs to Metro Manila weekly at a farmgate price of P145 per kilo.

He said the government may also import pork and live hogs “as a matter of last recourse.”

President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week approved the DA’s recommendation to expand the minimum access volume (MAV) allocation for pork imports as a temporary solution to curb the rise in pork prices. Pork imports within the MAV quota enter the country at a 30% tariff. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza