KISS Para Sa Masa

By Manny Piñol

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.” - Henry Kissinger

Some of the best ideas in this world are thought of and formulated under the worst crisis situation.

Yesterday, as the hog industry leaders grappled with the unexpected but gladly welcomed problem of a sudden increase in the prices of meat in the market, very brilliant ideas were put forward by the hog raisers themselves.

The discussions were focused on how to bring down the prices of meat and fish in the market while at the same time make livestock raising and fish farming profitable.

Here are some of the recommendations made yesterday:

1. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) should enhance the capability of backyard hog raisers to mix and process their own feeds looking local materials.

The very high price of commercial feeds increases the cost of production, thus resulting in the very low-profitability of backyard hog raising.

2. The country's corn farmers should be brought into the equation so that their produce will have a ready market in the local feed mills to be established by organised backyard hog raisers.

This would ensure that the corn farmers will be encouraged to produce more to stabilise the supply of corn for the livestock industry.

3. The DAF through the National Meat Inspection Service and the Bureau of Animal Industry must focus on the establishment of more efficient slaughterhouses in the country to provide backyard livestock raisers access to these facilities.

This will enhance the profitability of hog and livestock raising for small farmers because of value-adding.

4. The DAF must design a distribution and marketing scheme to assist backyard hog raisers in bringing their products to the market without having to pass through the middlemen, the wholesalers and the supermarket owners because the multi-tiered marketing set up adds up to the price of the meat.

I found all of their suggestions practical and doable but I am most excited in the design of the production, distribution and marketing scheme which I believe could be effectively handled by the organised farmers themselves with support from the Department.

Early today, I designed a program which I have named Karne, Isda Supply Para Sa Masa or KISS Para Sa Masa which will start with the organisation of small hog raisers and fishermen in every region into associations or cooperatives.

How will this work?

1. Organized livestock raisers and fishermen will be provided with financing and given access to facilities like slaughterhouses and blast freezers.

2. For livestock raisers and fish farmers using fish cages or fishponds, support will be given to enable them to establish their own feed processing facilities. They will be linked up with farmers who produce the raw materials like corn, copra meal and others.

3. The DAF will identify small neighbourhood stores in the big cities and provide them chest freezers. These small neighbourhood stores will serve as outlets for the products of the backyard livestock raisers and fishermen.

4. Meat and fish which will go through blast-freezing will be in 1/2 kilo, 1 kilo and 2 kilo packs following the "Meat-in-the-Box" model of the Department implemented during the time of Sec. Arthur Yap.

The packaging of the products will ensure food safety while the small packets will allow the poor to be able to buy the commodity in small volume.

5. The DAF will facilitate the transport of the meat and fish to the market through freezer vans which could either be operated by the farmers' and fishermen's associations or by service providers.

6. Coordination will be made with the Dept. of Transportation, the Dept. of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police and the Metro Manila Development Authority to ensure that the delivery trucks are given priority in the loading in ferries and in passage in the country's major highways and streets.

The KISS Para Sa Masa Program is expected to result in the following benefits:

1. Stabilize the supply of meat and fish in the big cities at prices affordable to the ordinary wage earners because the multi-tiered distribution system will be eliminated.

2. It will provide additional income to small store owners in the big cities who will now become accredited outlets of meat and fish products from the provinces.

3. Increase economic activity in the countryside and address poverty.

4. Provide the needed outlet for corn farmers and other feed materials producers thus addressing the fluctuating prices of corn.

Most of all, I believe this scheme will fulfil President Rody Duterte's commitment to provide "Available and Affordable Food" for the Filipino people.

This program will be implemented through a piloting scheme.

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