As COVID-19 continues to cause disruption to the country’s economy, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar on Friday (March 20) said that all stakeholders must further strengthen food supply links from farms to markets to ensure unhampered source of food during the 30-day enhanced quarantine and beyond.
“The best way to sustain stable prices of agriculture and fishery commodities and food products is to have a continuous and unhampered movement of such goods from origin to the markets much more in Metro Manila and other metropolis,” Dar said.
In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a national state of calamity, the Department of Agriculture (DA) issued Memorandum Circular 9 on Friday (March 20) extending the imposition of unhampered movement of all cargoes, agriculture and fishery inputs, food products, and agribusiness personnel nationwide, especially those coming from Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon, and vice versa.
“With most businesses now at a standstill, it is important now, more than ever, that we join hands in ensuring there will be stable, affordable and safe food on our tables,” Dar added.
The Secretary appealed for deeper understanding on the importance of the unhampered movement of food supplies especially in Metro Manila, which is dependent on outside sources for its food requirements.
Last March 18, the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Health (DOH) issued a joint memorandum circular imposing a 60-day price freeze for basic goods and agriculture products nationwide.
The DA chief said that the success of the price freeze and suggested retail price on agri-fishery products and basic necessities would depend largely on the free and umhampered movement of food supplies.
“It’s law of supply and demand. Stabilization of prices will only be possible if there is enough supplies in the markets. This is exactly why the unhampered movement of food supplies should be one priority in this war against Covid-19, else, all our efforts will be in vain if we have nothing to feed our people,” he said.
Dar appealed to local government units starting from the barangays and their crisis management teams to ensure free movement of skeletal force of agricultural workers including farm inputs in rural areas to continue food production for the 105 million Filipinos, in compliance to the enhanced community quarantine measures.
“The threat of hunger is as real as the threat of COVID-19 virus. Even those who survive this virus will have to face the following: lack of food, and non-existent food production and producers. Food does not appear like magic. It is sourced from various raw materials, which are produced by the hardworking farmers and farm workers. However, most of them are now locked down in their homes and prevented from crossing checkpoints. Who will produce and make food now?” he said.
In addition to the “food pass” for food products, Secretary Dar is pushing for the establishment of so-called mobility corridors for the food supply chain to move with ease –including personnel, processing, delivery, distribution, and management in food production.
Dar agrees with the perspective that this national war against COVID-19 pandemic can be broken down as follows: 90% logistics, 5% health, 3% enforcement, and 1% common sense.