Agriculture Secretary William Dar over the weekend reassured the consuming public of adequate food supply, following the month-long community quarantine being imposed in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Dar said that the Food Resiliency Action Plan for COVID-19 is now in full effect to ensure availability of affordable, nutritious and safe food for consumers, adding that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is now expediting the facilitation of so-called “green lanes” or “food fast lanes” in 65 entry and exit points around Metro Manila.
“We are coordinating with all accredited truckers, logistics and refrigerated van operators for the faster passage of agricultural goods. We will guarantee that quarantine measures will still be observed while ensuring that we have enough supply of commodities that are arriving from other regions,” Dar said.
The DA is mobilizing all its regional field offices to assist in seeing to it that food supplies are regularly moved to Metro Manila. Regional field offices were ordered to provide assistance to accredited and registered traders or “viajeros” who will enter NCR in terms of access to these drop-off points and new sites for KADIWA ni Ani and Kita.
The DA is also working with local government units on new drop-off points where consumers can access food deliveries – including school grounds, barangay halls or subdivision areas.
“The commodities will be in retail-ready food packs for safety and efficient trading to avoid longer stay in groceries and drop-off points,” Dar added.
The Secretary also assured that fishing activities in Manila Bay, as well as deliveries of fish products from nearby provinces, would remain unimpeded.
“There is no restriction in fishing activities while ports will continue its normal operations to ensure smooth movement and unloading of fish products for Metro Manila residents,” he said in a statement.
He said the DA has been anticipating and preparing for the quarantine scenario as a result of the outbreak, saying that “basic commodities and other food products such as fish will remain and be readily available to the public.”
Dar said that he has already directed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource (BFAR) to assist small fisherfolk, shippers, distributors and fish traders to ensure faster movement and unloading of fish products at six major ports in Metro Manila.
BFAR personnel were also ordered to monitor the movement of fish products coming nearby provinces to ensure unhampered delivery to distribution centers and target destinations.
The agri chief said that there is enough supply of fish coming from regions 1, 2 and 4-B with over 10, 200 metric tons of deliveries on a weekly basis – more than the 8,000 MT weekly fish requirement of the NCR.
“Again, we assure Metro Manila residents that we have enough supply of food and fish in volumes we earlier reported. We will continue our coordination with other government agencies for the most efficient movement of food from the provinces to Metro Manila,” Dar said.
The DA earlier said that the country still has rice supply good for 35 weeks or equivalent of nine months. The 16 cities and one municipality in NCR will also be supplied with 13,000 metric tons of vegetables, 11,000 metric tons of pork and chicken weekly.