DA seeks P31 billion for anti-COVID program

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - March 30, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Department of Agriculture has reiterated the government’s commitment to providing adequate, accessible and affordable food for every Filipino family through the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat or ALPAS COVID-19, dubbed as Plant, Plant, Plant program.

In a statement, DA secretary William Dar said that the agency will implement the Plant, Plant, Plant program as the centerpiece initiative to ensure sustained food production and availability, food accessibility and affordability amid the threats of COVID-19.

In line with this, DA requested for a P31 billion supplemental fund, on top of the department’s budget for this year to carry out the program.

Dar emphasized that the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of COVID-19.

 He said that the government is giving equal priority and attention to continuously expand local food production to avoid potential shortage.

Dar said that the agency will carry out these strategies to increase national agri-fishery output through the expansion of areas to be covered by government programs.

He added that the use of advanced and relevant technologies to increase levels of productivity across all commodities will be also be intensified.

For rice for instance, Dar stressed that the possibility of a tightened global supply is always present, as traditional rice exporting countries are expected to favor securing stocks for their own people, amid increased demand and heightened restrictions in global trade and travel.

 Earlier, the Secretary assured that the country has enough supply of rice for the next four months considering the current NFA rice inventory plus dry season harvest and continued rice imports.

"For rice, our major staple, we have enough supply to tide us over towards the lean months. In particular, by the end of the first semester, our rice inventory is good for 67 days,” he said.

  Dar added that DA will also pursue the same level of adequacy for the other major agricultural and fishery commodities.

To help widen people’s access to food, Dar is encouraging big agribusiness companies and consolidators to invest in cluster farming, in partnerships with organized farmers’ and fishers’ groups. KQD (FREEMAN)

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