Gov’t eyes price cap on pork

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MANILA – The national government is eyeing to impose a price cap on pork amid rising food prices, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Sunday.

In an interview over DZBB, Nograles, chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger, said the Department of Agriculture (DA) is currently studying the possibility of imposing stricter price measures in public markets.

“Tinitingnan din natin ang pag-impose ng price cap para sa presyo ng baboy. Pinag-aaralan ito ng Department of Agriculture. Anyway, nasa state of public health emergency pa naman tayo (We are also looking at imposing price cap for prices of pork. This is being studied by the Department of Agriculture. Anyway, we are still under a state of public health emergency),” he said.

The last time a price freeze was imposed was in November last year, following the declaration of a state of calamity in Luzon in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses.

Besides Covid-19 pandemic, Nograles admitted that the government is also facing the challenge of addressing African swine fever (ASF) which continues to pull down pork supply in the country while jacking up its prices.

“Meron po talaga kaming challenges diyan dahil sa ASF although marami nang mga hakbang na nagawa ang Department of Agriculture even before dumating ang Covid-19 (There are really many challenges there because of ASF but the Department of Agriculture has been taking steps even before the pandemic),” he said.

Currently, Nograles said the DA has encouraged shipping pork from ASF-free areas in Visayas and Mindanao to areas experiencing high inflation.

“Naghahanap ng paraan na makakuha ng supply ng baboy mula sa mga areas na walang ASF at dadalhin sa mga merkado, lalo na sa mga urban areas tulad ng Metro Manila, para po ma-stabilize natin ang presyo ng baboy (They’re finding ways to get supply from areas with no ASF and bringing them to the market, especially in urban areas like Metro Manila, to stabilize the prices of pork),” he said.

To address soaring prices of vegetables, Nograles said that there is also a need to increase accessibility and supply by boosting the campaign to promote community gardening and urban gardening.

“For us sa (at the) Task Force Zero Hunger, ang pinaka (the most) sustainable way for us to ensure yung supply gulay is kailangan natin mag (we need a) massive campaign para sa (to promote) urban gardening, community gardening. ‘Yan po yung pinakamabils (That’s the fastest way),” he said.

Reduce hunger, unemployment

Meanwhile, Nograles emphasized the need to prioritize programs to reduce the incidence of hunger by half this year,

A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that families who experienced involuntary hunger eased to 16 percent in November 2020 from the record-high of 30.7 reported in September 2020.

“Ang target po natin is mabalik siya sa dating 8 percent or 8.7, 8.8 percent dahil nagawa na natin ito nung last quarter of 2019 bago dumating ang Covid (Our target is to bring the hunger incidence rate back to 8 percent or 8.7, 8.8 percent because we were able to do this in the last quarter of 2019 before Covid),” he said.

Nograles said the National Food Policy will help ensure food security in the country by supporting farmers and fisherfolk through increasing their productivity and income.

He also noted that it was just as important to lower the country’s current unemployment rate.

“Dahil nga po marami sa mga kababayan natin ang nawalan ng trabaho, ang latest numbers po natin ay nasa 8.7 percent ang ating unemployment as of October 2020 and if you compare that to October of 2019 nung wala pang Covid sa bansa, ang ating (our) unemployment rate ay (was) 4.6 [percent] (Because many of our citizens lost their jobs, our latest numbers show that our unemployment rate is at 8.7 percent as of October 2020 and if you compare that to October 2019 when we didn’t have Covid in our country, our unemployment rate was 4.6 percent),” he said. (PNA)

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