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HomeCustoms & TradePH’s first cold exam facility for agri, fishery imports eyed in Subic

PH’s first cold exam facility for agri, fishery imports eyed in Subic

  • The Department of Agriculture and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority agree to establish the country’s first cold examination facility for agriculture (CEFA) at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales
  • The facility will allow DA to inspect 100% imports of farm, fishery and meat products
  • CEFA in SBFZ will be the first of the five planned “first border control facilities” of DA
  • Other CEFAs are eyed in Manila, Cebu, Batangas and Davao ports
  • DA proposes to use a 2,000-square meter lot at the freeport zone for 25 years

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) have agreed in principle to establish the country’s first cold examination facility for agriculture (CEFA) at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) in Zambales.

The first of DA’s five planned “first border control facilities”, CEFA in SBFZ is part of DA’s plan to inspect 100% of imported farm, fishery, and meat products to ensure quality, prevent entry of transboundary pests and diseases, and avoid misdeclared shipments.

“We thank SBMA chair and CEO (Atty Wilma) Eisma for the smooth negotiations, pending approval of the SBMA Board, that will jumpstart the process of procurement. We wish the facility constructed as soon as possible,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement. Dar met with Eisma last June 30, 2021.

In a statement, DA said there was an earlier move to establish a CEFA at the Manila International Container Terminal; negotiations are still ongoing between the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the Philippine Ports Authority.

DA also plans to put up CEFAs in the ports of Batangas, Cebu and Davao. In a statement last March though, DA said the plan covers six ports, including Manila South Harbor.

READ: Six ports to house DA examination areas for agri imports

For the Subic CEFA, the DA proposes to use a 2,000-square meter lot at the freeport zone for 25 years, renewable upon mutual agreement. Dar said SBFZ is an ideal location because it is well-connected to main Metro Manila highways.

Once operational, the Subic CEFA will be able to conduct full inspection of containerized agricultural commodities through risk assessment, complemented by x-ray screening of the Bureau of Customs. DA said this means all farm, fishery, meat, and food imports will be subjected to 100% sampling and laboratory testing.

“The CEFAs will initiate a new way of conducting first-border inspections, as well as host more thorough examinations, as you can open all arriving imports in one cold warehouse and have ample time to examine them,” Dar explained.

The planned CEFA network—with a total fund allocation of P521 million from the Office of the President—will be equipped with laboratories and manned by quarantine officers and technical staff from DA’s attached agencies—BAI, Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and National Meat Inspection Service.

Each facility will feature controlled temperature systems that will capacitate quarantine officers to thoroughly inspect contents of an identified high-risk containerized shipment and prevent possible spread of hazardous biological agents, such as toxins, and radioactive elements carried by imported agricultural products.

The DA estimates that the Subic CEFA would earn at least P130 million yearly from testing and inspection fees. The construction and operation of the Subic CEFA and four other first border control facilities are expected to also generate employment in the respective localities.

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