Gov't assures local liovestock-based commodities'availability for Japan

March 29, 2011 4:53 am 

MANILA, March 28 — Government is open to helping meet part of demand for livestock-based commodities in Japan where concern about its agricultural produce's possible radiation contamination continues amidst the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster there.

"We're prepared for that and our local supply won't be compromised," Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Dir. Efren Nuestro said Monday on the side of Livestock Development Industry's anniversary celebration.

He said BAI will inform the public if Japan decides seeking more Philippine livestock-based commodities so local players can meet such demand accordingly.

"We'll announce that once such information from Japan reaches us," he said.

Latest available data show the Philippines produced last year nearly two million tons of hogs, up from the country's 2009 output of 1.77 million tons.

Authorities also project growth in nationwide ruminant production from the nearly 470,000 metric tons (MTs) of carabao, cattle, goat and duck produced in 2005.

Data likewise show Philippine chicken production reached an estimated 1.35 million MTs last year, rising nearly five percent from what this was in 2009.

Nuestro reported the Philippines is already exporting chicken meat to Japan where such is cooked and marketed as a delicacy called 'yakitori.'

The prevailing food scare there might drive demand for more 'yakitori' chicken meat from sources outside Japan, he noted.

Despite previous demand for 'yakitori' chicken, government reported coconut oil, fresh bananas, tuna, pineapple and pineapple products as well as fresh mangoes were the country's top exports to Japan in 2009.

Nuestro said BAI will look into potential problems that local players concerned can encounter in their bid to meet Japan's anticipated demand for livestock-based commodities so such can be addressed as early as possible.

Such problems can cover regulation, certification and protocols, he noted.

"We'll support private sector initiatives to meet Japan's needs," he said.

Following the Fukushima disaster and resulting food scare in Japan, BAI temporarily suspended last week issuance of the veterinary quarantine clearance which importers must secure before bringing in commodities into the Philippines.

Nuestro said the suspension aims to block entry of imports from radiation-affected areas since such items might be already contaminated with radioactive materials.

"We ordered this suspension as a preventive assurance," he said.

He noted BAI's order prevented entry of milk – a livestock-based commodity – which importers sourced from Japan.

The suspension won't significantly affect supply of livestock-based imports in the country, Nuestro clarified.

"We don't import a lot from Japan," he said.

He noted discussions are underway to formalize BAI's suspension order and to establish guidelines covering the matter.

The order will remain in effect until Japanese authorities declare the radiation-affected areas to be safe, he added. (PNA) DCT/LOR/CJT/utb


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