DOF urges DA to restrategize food program
In his latest economic bulletin, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said inflation in December accelerated to 3.5 percent from 3.3 percent in November mainly due to higher food prices, particularly vegetables and meat.
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DOF urges DA to restrategize food program

Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) is urging the Department of Agriculture (DA) to restrategize its programs to ensure enough food supply and stabilize prices following an uptick in inflation in December last year.

In his latest economic bulletin, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said inflation in December accelerated to 3.5 percent from 3.3 percent in November mainly due to higher food prices, particularly vegetables and meat.

“Vegetable supplies were dented by the successive typhoons that swept the country during the last quarter. Meat was adversely affected by the African swine fever (ASF),” Beltran said.

This, Beltran said, calls for the DA to strengthen its program to ensure the stable supply of food, and therefore lower the price of these commodities.

“The DA’s food programs may have to be restrategized so that unaffected regions can supply alternative supplies of vegetables to typhoon-battered regions immediately after a typhoon. Likewise, a stronger program to stamp out ASF needs to be set up,” he said.

According to Beltran, the price of vegetables rose by 19.73 percent in December last year, while meat prices increased by 9.95 percent.

He also said that the price of rice also rose by 0.1 percent, with the regions directly battered by typhoons, such as Cagayan Valley and Bicol, registering the highest increase.

Moreover, Beltran said the rise in transportation cost also accelerated to 8.33 percent in December last year from 7.63 percent in the previous month, contributing to the inflation.

This happened as the international crude oil prices climbed by nearly 11   percent to $48.76 per barrel from $43.95 per barrel in the previous month due to tighter supply arising from demand recovery.

Despite the uptick in December inflation, Beltran said that the Philippines’ inflation rate still averaged at 2.6 percent, which was well within the government target of two to four percent.

Earlier, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the recent uptick in prices showed the need to “improve supply chain efficiency to ensure that prices of essential goods and services remain stable.”

Chua emphasized the need to establish processing facilities that will prevent wastage and spoilage of farm harvests, such as the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center in the Cordillera region where a large part of the country’s supply of vegetables is sourced.

He also underscored the need to set up additional cold storage facilities, warehouses, and post-harvest centers that will further improve supply management in the agriculture sector, especially in times of natural disasters or when there are surplus in harvest. 

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