MANILA -- With the projected increase in demand for hogs and poultry, especially in countries affected by the African swine fever (ASF), the Department of Agriculture (DA) is expanding the production areas of corn and sorghum by 100,000 hectares each.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol, in a press briefing on Tuesday, said the additional 100,000 hectares to be planted to corn will be on top of what has already been covered by farmers this cropping season.
Piñol said most of the expansion areas for corn are located in Mindanao where planting was delayed due to the El Niño phenomenon.
The expansion of corn lands is expected to increase production by 600,000 metric tons (MT) this year.
The DA is also seeking the approval of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez for the importation of some 300,000 MT of corn at lower tariffs to fill up the shortfall caused by El Niño in the country feed crops.
More than PHP86.42 million losses were already recorded for corn affecting more than 3,819 hectares nationwide.
On the other hand, the DA chief said the additional 100,000 hectares to be planted with sorghum will be new areas mostly located in marginal lands, which have been largely under-utilized, including ancestral domain areas of the indigenous people.
The expansion in sorghum production areas is projected to contribute 400,000 MT for the year.
He noted that the expansion of the corn areas, the opening of another 100,000 hectares for sorghum, and the importation of 300,000 MT of corn are part of the preparation of the DA for the expected dramatic growth of the hog and poultry sectors this year.
"The Philippine hog industry is expected to benefit from the woes of countries affected by the ASF, especially China which culled millions of breeders across the country," said Piñol.
With China importing huge volumes of pork as a result of the ASF devastation, pork world market prices have gone up, giving the Filipino hog farmers a respite from the inflow of cheaper imported pork, he said.
In fact, Piñol said some large hog production groups are now eyeing the export of Philippine pork to China, a move which could create a supply shortage in the local market.
"With available local feed materials like corn and sorghum, local hog and poultry raisers could increase their production while at the same time reduce the production cost," he noted. (PNA)