Thursday, July 26, 2012

DA Eyes World-Class Slaughterhouses

MANILA, Philippines - Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has asked the hog industry to explore the export market for pork, saying the establishment of world-class slaughterhouses is premised on maximizing the industry's potential overseas. Alcala's marching orders to his subordinates at the Department of Agriculture (DA) is to find sites that are viable, meaning they should be adjacent to piggeries and corn farms that provide the feeds for hogs. Agriculture Undersecretary for Finance Antonio Fleta said the department is consulting with the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. (ProPork) for the crafting of a meat industry roadmap, which also focuses on the establishment of slaughterhouses that abide by international standards on hygiene, sanitation and meat quality. Not only the DA but also the Alliance of Food Producers, Processors and Stakeholders (AFPPS) want hog raisers to rationalize their operations, meaning they should start producing choice cuts rather than selling hogs at 90 kilos, which limits their incomes. Meat processors source no less than 30 percent of their meat requirements from local hog farmers and poultry raisers. "We have allotted some R180 million for the construction of two triple A slaughterhouses this year. What we want is to identify the strategic areas so that they can be maximized," Fleta stressed in an event organized by ProPork. Agriculture Assistant Secretary for housesLivestock Davinio Catbagan said the DA hopes to find a local government unit (LGU) that can host the slaughterhouse and be a partner of the department within the next two weeks. One triple A slaughterhouse already operates in the Mt. Matutum area in South Cotabato. Catbagan revealed that the slaughterhouses will be built in Luzon. He added that R180-million funding is just an initial amount, saying that Alcala has promised to provide additional funding if a feasibility study shows that a bigger facility is needed. "The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) is already doing the ground work, the planning. It's just a matter of finding the specific area for the facilities, whether it is in Bulacan, in Batangas, in Laguna or in Quezon," he said. Catbagan believes the new slaughterhouses will help local pork producers to meet quality standards set by importers of processed meat. Fleta explained that while the efforts for this year target Luzon, DA is also planning to establish similar facilities in Visayas and Mindanao starting next year. Slaughterhouses are classified by the NMIS into three different ratings: AAA, AA and A. Based on NMIS, AAA slaughterhouses are top-grade abattoirs with appropriate facilities and operational procedures. Livestock and fowls slaughtered in these facilities are recommended for sale in domestic and international markets. AA abattoirs have sufficiently adequate facilities and procedures that make their products suitable for sale in all markets. On the other hand, A-rated slaughterhouses have facilities and procedures of minimum adequacy