Philippines has enough food supply amid COVID
Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured the people yesterday that there is sufficient supply of rice and other prime commodities in the market with the public expected to stock up on supplies.
Michael Varcas/File

Philippines has enough food supply amid COVID

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has enough food supply to meet demand, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said as it appealed to consumers not to engage in panic buying amid the increasing cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured the people yesterday that there is sufficient supply of rice and other prime commodities in the market with the public expected to stock up on supplies.

“We have enough food supply. In terms of food like rice, we have excess supply, good for 80-day rice inventory. And then this March and April will be harvest season, so I can see that we have five to six months of rice inventory,” Dar told reporters.

“And also on fish with Taal (Lake in Batangas) is coming back, they will start harvesting. Taal supplies 60 percent of the total requirement of tilapia and bangus of Metro Manila. This will really be a big factor, plus we’ve been connecting big farmers and producers from Central Luzon and Calabarzon,” he said.

The government has announced that the number of individuals with COVID-19 has risen to more than 30, prompting the metro-wide suspension of classes.

The increasing cases of COVID-19 may likely prompt panic buying among consumers, similar to what happened in other countries like Italy, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“There should be no panic buying. Let us call on the Filipino people that while there is a big problem like COVID, let us not panic. The government is on top of the situation,” Dar said.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has recommended a lockdown for Metro Manila but President Duterte maintained that the metropolis has not reached the level where lockdown is an option.

“But even if that happens, the movement of food supplies will not be affected. Let us not hope for such a potential scenario but all scenarios are being looked at by the whole nation approach of the government,” Dar said.

The DA said it continues to revise its action plan as COVID-19 is not the only problem of the sector right now, but also the increasing cases of African swine fever.

As consumers ramp up their buying, Dar said the DA is strengthening its monitoring of the implementation of the suggested retail price (SRP) of commodities as such is not being fully implemented in the market.

For one, fully dressed chicken’s prevailing price is at P150 even if the SRP set is P130. Galunggong (round scad) is also priced higher at P200 per kilo versus its SRP of P130.

The DA is now studying if it can impose an SRP at the level of traders and not just retailers. – With Mayen Jaymalin

FOOD SUPPLY
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