In its ongoing efforts to ensure the country’s food safety and security, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is eager for the approval of its budget request to build the country’s first Cold Examination Facility in Agriculture (CEFA).
The CEFA is a state-of-the-art examination facility of all imported animal, fish, plant, and other agricultural commodities.
The construction of the said facility is essential to the Department’s goal to strengthen the country’s capability to conduct first border inspections and improve its examination of containerized agricultural commodities. It also seeks to prevent proliferation of agricultural smuggling.
On July 20, the DA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Pacific Roadlink Logistics Inc. (PRLI) to construct CEFA on its Container Terminal Area in Angat, Bulacan. The MOU signing was witnessed by Senate Committee on Agriculture Chairperson Senator Cynthia A. Villar, House Committee on Agriculture Cong. Mark Enverga and other members of the House of Representatives, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Conrado Estrella, and the local executive officials of Bulacan.
The Department has allocated P2.3-billion in its 2023 budget for this project, which will include sites in Subic, Zambales, Batangas, Cebu, and Davao in collaboration with other government agencies like the Philippine Ports Authority.
For a decade, the department has been searching for suitable locations to establish an Agricultural Inspection and Examination Area for imported agricultural products. The Bulacan site was considered by the Department after a series of consultation with private agriculture stakeholders such as the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), and the National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc.
The PRLI donated a 10-hectare land of its Angat property for CEFA’s construction and operation, meeting the department’s specifications and guidelines set for facilities like staging, incinerators, container yards, and truck parking. Under the agreement, the department can use this land for 25 years, with 2,000 square meters designated for examination and laboratory purposes at no cost to the government. PRLI is also responsible for maintaining the facility.
The Risk Assessment Categorization of all imported agri-fishery will be operated by the DA’s Food Safety and Regulatory Agencies (FSRA), namely the Bureaus of Animal Industry (BAI), Plant Industry (BPI), and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
The facility would initially function as a 24-hour Off-Dock Custom Facility to handle agricultural importations from the country’s two main ports: Port of Manila and Manila International Container Port.
All imported agricultural products shall be forwarded to the CEFA to undergo thorough examination, especially those from countries with disease outbreaks, unaccredited importers, misdeclared goods, smuggled items, or other regulatory concerns. Products categorized as medium-risk will undergo a 30% sample collection and analysis, while low-risk products will undergo a 10% sample collection and analysis.
CEFA supports the Philippines, as a member state of the World Trade Organization, in its commitment to the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement which allows to take measures to protect human, animal, and plant health while trading.
Pursuant to the Food Safety Act of 2013, the Department is responsible for setting and enforcing food safety standards for products throughout the food supply chain, including border inspections and control. ###