A food security advocacy group is recommending the consumption of fish as an alternative source of protein with the continued increase of meat prices, not only due to the threat of African swine fever (ASF), but also because of the rising cost worldwide of animal feed ingredients, primarily corn, and soybean.
Tugon Kabuhayan lead convenor Asis Perez, former Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director, said prices of corn and soybean increased in January. Corn and soybean are key inputs in the production of animal feeds widely used for hogs and chickens.
“For January 2021, the price of corn reached USD 234.47 per metric ton (MT) compared to USD 171.79 per MT in the same period last year. The same goes for soybean which rose to USD 576.3 per MT against USD 387.05 per MT in 2020,” Perez said in a statement.
“This is alarming because a lot of (animal) feed uses corn and soybean. Because of this, we see that meat imports scheduled to arrive in the Philippines will have higher prices also,” he added.
Perez said fish consumed less feed as compared to hogs and chickens.
He cited tilapia which only needs 1.1 kilograms (kg) of feed to produce one kilogram of meat, while a kilo of pork needs four kilograms of feed.
“Fish is the most efficient converter of animal feed into protein among animals,” he said.
Perez said fish producers usually use rice bran as feed since the digestive tracts of fish are not designed to process corn or soybean.
“The fisheries sector will be able to respond quicker to higher prices since it is not dependent on imported ingredients,” he said.
Perez also said the availability of alternative fish feed inputs like algae and copra.
“If we can grow algae, which can be plentiful in our country, it is one source that can be developed to provide feed for fish production,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture earlier identified more importation as one of the solutions to address the increasing pork prices in Metro Manila and nearby areas due to ASF that has resulted in the culling and death of more than 500,000 hogs.*