Industry leaders count on Laurel’s experience to solve agri problems

Newly-appointed Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr.'s deep understanding of the fisheries sector and food processing would give him a different take on how to resolve food security, exports and other agricultural problems, according to an agricultural economist in the academe and the leader of local pork growers. Roberto Galang, dean at Ateneo de Manila's John Gokongwei School of Management, said Laurel is 'an interesting appointment' who has the right background for addressing the country's broader challenges in food production and distribution. 'We wish him well and are hopeful that he can find innovative solutions -- working with the business sector -- on how to move the sector forward,' he said in an interview on Sunday. Galang, also a noted lecturer in the distribution channels of agricultural goods, said Laurel is counted upon to set the direction for greater collaboration with agro-industry as a first step towards bridging gaps in food production. Meanwhile, Rolando Tambago, president of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, appealed to the new DA secretary to focus on the repopulation of the country's piggeries, many of which have been decimated by African swine fever (ASF) since the initial outbreaks in 2019. 'We wish him the best of luck in handling this very critical department. If all goes well, he can really help improve the country's inflation figures. He can harness the insights gained while running the successful Frabelle Group, and apply them in his new job,' he said in another interview. Tambago said having a dedicated agriculture secretary promises to be beneficial in view of the many challenges besetting the domestic pork industry. ASF outbreaks in pig farms nationwide have resulted in an estimated 35 percent drop in domestic swine population, he added. Tambago said that while pork importation has served as a stopgap for meeting consumer demand, Laurel is saddled with the task of revitalizing the local piggery sector. 'The government will eventually have to rethink its policy of repeatedly reducing tariffs on pork imports. It may be helpful during times of shortage, but if this goes on over the long term, it can serve as a disincentive to local pork producers,' he said. Tambago appealed to Laurel to find new ways of helping swine farmers improve their efficiencies and reduce the cost of inputs.

Source: Philippines News Agency