Members of the Agroecology X Network, together with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), held the “Livestock and Poultry Stakeholders Workshop” last March 12, 2021. It was held in a blended format online and in the Sikat Studio in Quezon City. The workshop had diverse participants from farmers, hog and poultry raisers, consumers, legislators, and other food advocates from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The second in a series of food systems workshops under the National People’s Food Systems Summit, the workshop discussed challenges faced by small livestock and poultry producers. It also provided a venue for the forwarding of demands and recommendations.
Among the speakers were Danny Fausto of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Atty. Bong Inciong of United Broilers Association (UBRA), former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary and KMP Chairman Emeritus Rafael Mariano, and Dr. Rose Sambo, a veterinarian from FARMERS’ Inc.
Mariano discussed the devastating effects of the country’s bondage to the Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the past 26 years. Mariano forwarded the demands of local food producers to break free from WTO, resist neoliberal policies, and support domestic agriculture.
Lester Gueta and Alfie Pulumbarit of Agroecology X discussed the network’s critique of the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit. Gueta says that many groups are concerned that the Summit will serve only to further corporate interests since it is being led by representatives tied with huge transnational corporations and finance capital. Pulumbarit shared that, as a response, Agroecology X is organizing a parallel national summit to drum up public awareness and support towards agroecological initiatives and towards a genuinely pro-people food system.
Fausto led the discussion on the Philippine Food Value Chain. He pointed out that the livestock and poultry sectors comprise one-third of local agricultural output. Despite this, the government allocates a measly 1.5% of the total budget for local food production. Fausto asserted a holistic approach to addressing the livestock and poultry problems, encompassing the entire agricultural process.
Tan discussed the current situation of the livestock industry as well as the demands of producers and stakeholders within the sector. He reiterated the detrimental effects of the Philippines’ subservience to WTO. He also argued that instead of convincing local producers to import pork, the Department of Agriculture should provide support and financial subsidy to local hog raisers and breeders to repopulate and revitalize local hog production.
Dr. Sambo discussed the effects of ASF on local poultry producers and breeders. She recommended implementing biosecurity measures and supporting the local corn and rice industries to avoid the importation of feed ingredients.
Prof. Reggie Vallejos of the SUKI Network shared the effects of the rising cost of food to Filipino consumers. He expressed support for the farmers’ call for immediate aid and subsidy.
Atty. Inciong discussed the current situation of the poultry industry and the demands of producers and stakeholders within the sector. He noted that history has shown that import liberalization did not help strengthen local food production and instead wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of Filipino food producers and consumers. He recommended that tariffs collected from imported agricultural products should be earmarked to support domestic agriculture, among others.
Bayan Muna representatives Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, Ferdinand Gaite, and the office of Magsasaka Partylist representative Argel Cabatbat also participated in the lively discussions. They committed to advancing the interests of Filipino hog and poultry raisers, as well as farmers.
After the presentations from various stakeholders, the remaining participants collaboratively drafted a document containing a list of common demands and policy recommendations that will be forwarded to the government’s Food Security Summit. Danilo Ramos of KMP closed the workshop by affirming the network’s commitment to building a genuinely pro-people food system anchored on genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization. #