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January 29, 2008

PHILIPPINES/AGROINDUSTRY
Poultry sector projects 15-20% expansion in 2008

The United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) projects a 15 to 20 per cent increase in chicken production for the year.

UBRA president Gregorio San Diego also assured of a stable supply of chicken and prices but complained of over supply of eggs. "Local chicken growers had imported double the amount of breeders last year in response to the tight supply of chicken. Thus, while the country is now assured of enough broilers, the industry is now faced with an oversupply of chicken eggs," he told Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap in a recent meeting with the sector.

San Diego also called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) chief to ensure the steady supply of corn for feed mills to lower production costs not only of the poultry industry but more so of the hog sector. He stressed that the rising costs of production might compromise expansion of local poultry and hog sectors.

San Diego pointed out that there are more big poultry growers compared to the hog industry, which is 70 per cent comprising of backyard producers. Thus, the toll of rising production costs has been higher for the small backyard hog growers and is likely to affect local pork supply, he said.

Corn is the major feed ingredient for livestocks. Yap said hog production in Mindanao has been more competitive because of the abundance of corn in the province as compared to Luzon.

Likewise, Visayas and Mindanao are free of the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). Yap said the corn subsector grew by 10 per cent to 6.737 million metric tons (MT) last year. For 2008, he said it is projected to increase further its production by 10.77 per cent to 7.3-7.5 million MT, and areas planted to corn by 75,000 hectares nationwide.

He said this year's projection would mean a 94 per cent sufficiency in corn and reduction in post-harvest losses to just eight per cent. Increase in production could be realized thru provision of OPV or hybrid corn seeds and microbial fertilizers to farmers as part of the DA's Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) Corn program.

On the other hand, Yap said reduction of post-harvest losses could be minimized thru the program's establishment of 50 post-harvest processing and trading centers (PHPTCs) in corn-producing provinces nationwide. This, as Norman C. Ramos, president of the Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (PAFMI), reported that the local feed milling sector is facing the prospects of weak growth this year as production costs have risen by as much as 30 per cent.

He complained over the rising cost of production, particularly the 20 per cent rise in raw material inputs needed for animal feeds. He noted that the price of soya bean meal, one of the primary sources of protein for livestock feeds, is at a 37-year high. The commodity, which previously costs P13 per kilo, now pegs at P23 to P24 per kilo.

Copra meal, also a source of protein and fiber, now costs P11 per kilo as compared to just P5 to P6 per kilo as of end-2006. Likewise, the price of local corn, another primary input for livestock feeds, has increased from P10.50 per kilo to P13.30 to P13.50 per kilo. Corn comprises 35 per cent of the total cost of feeds.

The prices of other raw materials such as rice bran (a lower source of fiber and a lower percentage protein but high in starch), coconut oil (source of fat), pollard (a better source of fiber than rice bran but inferior to copra meal) and even wheat (as a substitute to corn), have all similarly gone up, Ramos said.

In addition, he said the price of vitamins sourced from China has increased eleven-fold. The higher cost of raw material inputs would result in a "hard squeeze for the industry," Ramos said, adding that some small feed millers are already struggling to survive.

"We will have to fight it out, but the feed milling industry will grow if the hog and poultry industry grows," he said. Ramos said they are banking on the optimistic forecast by the DA that the livestock and poultry industry would post a much higher growth this year compared to the 2.83 per cent growth registered in 2007.

Yap, on the other hand, assured stakeholders of government support to sustain growth in production and increase farmers income. To address over supply of chicken eggs, he said he will be calling for an "egg festival" soon so it could determine which areas in the country need more supply of chicken eggs.

For the hog industry, Yap said the government is implementing this year the Animal Health Code to address various animal diseases and to have a more effective monitoring system.

He also announced the holding of a "Food Summit" to be held this March, which will be participated in by concerned government agencies, agribusiness sector, and stakeholders of the food industry.

The summit aims to determine the concerns of all sectors in agriculture and find a solution to them, he added.

Courtesy PNA

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