March 30, 2020
As vegetables and other farm produce are left wasted due amid Covid 19 lockdown, the private sector urged government to put up “emergency” trading centers down to the barangay to ensure consumers supply of healthful food.
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food (PCAFI) said the establishment of emergency testing centers is “urgent” as vegetables in Benguet are getting wasted away as many roads in barangays have been blocked due to Covid 19.
Food producers should also be allowed to take the lead in this supply system so as to widen participation in the distribution of needed goods—ensuring food security.
“Emergency trading centers in barangays and subdivisions nearest to consumers will give people access to the food they need while enhanced community quarantine is in effect. Mobile and rolling stores should be immediately dispatched. The agribusiness sector, unhampered, must take the lead,” said PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto.
The trading centers will supply more nutrients to Filipino consumers than just what is available in canned goods which are what is being distributed by barangays.
The emergency trading centers will also spare farmers from further impoverished situation amid Covid 19. The same trading centers will also be used as place for sorting, packaging, marketing, and delivery of farm produce whenever found in food-producing areas.
“Marketing, distribution and delivery efforts should be augmented with the help of government, the LGUs, and even by the military to ensure that food reaches the consumers and market of the farmers’ produced is assured.”
Amid the consequential crisis from the pandemic, PCAFI also stressed the nation should not forget existing quarantine measures against the African swine fever (ASF), among others, as this may be neglected.
“Complications on quarantine protocol: ASF for swine, Avian Flu for poultry and Fall army worm for corn could be left unattended due to the pandemic on COVID-19.
“Some local government units (LGUs) are defiant to the executive orders and laws that were promulgated to ensure safety and availability of food for their constituents. LGUs should be forced, with the help of the police and military to let go of their excess food produced in their area in order to ensure their availability to other parts of the country.”
These are other concerns PCAFI urged to be implemented:
- The value chain should be left unhampered. Production and agribusiness should be protected and supported and their operations encouraged to normalize and allow free flow of goods and services to feed the people
- Value chain requires the needed manpower in the supermarkets like drivers and helpers, merchandisers. They should not be blocked at the checkpoints. Factories producing the packaging materials should be allowed to operate.
- Production inputs like chicks, piglets, fingerlings, seeds, feeds, fertilizer and irrigation should be made available and its delivery to the farmer producers assured this coming production and planting season. Failure to do this, there will be no new planting and production for the next season and will result in shortage of food for the next semester and Christmas season.
- The food flow should start from the community or barangay to feed the people in the particular barangay. Any excess from the production in the barangay, it should be exported to the other barangays, municipalities, city or province, and make the farm produce available to areas where there are none.
- Ready market should be provided to the current farm harvest and income should be guaranteed for the farmer producers. If markets and income will not be assured, farmers will stop producing for the next cropping season (both for rice, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish).
- Farm produce should be able to reach the consumers. In the absence of traders to bridge the gap between the producers and consumers, the government should intervene to provide logistical requirements, delivery system and marketing support for the producers. Melody Mendoza Aguiba