HIGH pork prices brought about by African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks and food supply chain bottlenecks were the main drivers of inflation in Davao Region last year, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) regional head.

“Prices of food items were on the uptrend throughout the past year due to supply disruption and the prolonged impact of ASF on meat products. Thus, meat prices remained elevated in 2021 in this region,” said NEDA-Davao Regional Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim in a virtual briefing last week.

Inflation in the region averaged 4.6% in 2021 from 1.7% the previous year. 

“There was an acceleration of prices for all major commodities in 2021 driven mostly by higher prices in transport, food, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco. As well as in housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels,” she said. 

As of September last year, 43 towns across the region’s five provinces and Davao City have been affected by ASF. 

More than 10,000 hog raisers were affected, according to the Agriculture department’s regional office. 

The department as well as local governments have been extending financial aid and alternative livelihood assistance to the mostly backyard hog raisers.

On supply chain, mobility restrictions across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic affected cargo movement. 

For this year, Ms. Lim said they are confident of seeing economic recovery in the region, projecting a growth rate that could possibly be higher than the national level.

“With much optimism, we expect a positive outlook for Davao Region’s economy for 2022, we believe the region’s economic growth shall be at par or even surpass the economic performance of the country,” she said. 

The NEDA official noted a decrease in worker retrenchment in 2021 with 9,949 losing their employment from 18,470 in 2020. 

“These establishments continue to cope with the lingering effects of the pandemic as the main reason for the termination of workers and financial losses that these establishments continue to experience in 2021,” she said.

Overall employment in the region remained high at 94.6% from 95.8% year on year. — Maya M. Padillo