DA preps for worst in food supply gaps as virus spreads

A man carries a sack of commercial rice in a store in Parañaque City as the market starts feeling the possible impact of Coivd-19.

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is still crafting a plan to ensure food stocks are sufficient in Metro Manila amid rising coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said he has instructed his officials to craft an “action plan on the food availability and supply” as a “preemptive intervention” if the country’s Covid-19 situation worsens.

Dar noted that if the situation turns out to be worse than expected, then Covid-19 could potentially disrupt food supply chain in the country, particularly if lockdowns would be in place among cities or provinces.

“Let’s have a plan on how to sustain the food supply for Metro Manila initially, and the whole country, eventually. You have to look at various scenarios. Let us plan proactively and food supply will always be one of those that needs to be properly managed,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are anticipating something that might cause the disruption of food supply. Strategically positioning means ensuring that supply is available and enough. Sapat ba ang bigas dito sa Metro Manila [is rice supply enough in Metro Manila for] say, for the next one month?” he added.

Dar pointed out that food supply stocks, particularly basic commodities, such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, fish, pork, should be prepositioned by the DA and be available for immediate deployment to the public during emergency situations.

But, last Tuesday, Dar told reporters that the DA has already crafted a food supply prepositioning plan should the Covid-19 situation worsen.

Enough rice stocks

In a related development, the National Food Authority (NFA) on Thursday assured the public that it has sufficient rice stocks in the National Capital Region (NCR) to fill the demand of the metropolis for 40 days should a lockdown be imposed to control Covid-19.

“We have 455,000 bags of rice in Metro Manila. This is good for 40 days, at 10 percent market participation. Of course, there are still rice stocks in the households and the commercial sector, which comprise the great portion of rice stocks in the market,” NFA Administrator Judy Carol L. Dansal said.

NFA said it is also fast-tracking the transfer of 2.224 million bags of rice or about 11,206 metric tons (MT) to NCR from nearby rice-producing regions.

“This is to ensure the rice sufficiency level of NCR at all times,” it said.

The NCR will receive 311,920 bags (15,596 MT) from Region 01; 1,000,000 bags (50,000 MT) from Region 2; and 912,200 bags (45,610 MT) from Region 3, according to NFA.

“The total government rice stocks is 9.636 million bags or 481,800 MT. This is equivalent to 14.5-day rice consumption requirement of the whole country at 661,930 bags,” the NFA said.

“They are stored in different strategically located warehouses in all provinces,” it added.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes


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