THE National Cold Chain Committee (NC3) is finalizing the priority actions and programs under the industry roadmap for the local cold chain sector, one of the committee’s chairman said.
Board of Investments (BOI) Governor Marjorie O. Ramos-Samaniego said that the technical working groups (TWG) recently met to tackle policy reforms, cold chain services, cold chain logistics and food-and-drug safety education.
“[Once] everything is finalized, we are going to have a resolution done amongst the NC3 to have a continuity of the plan and the commitment to achieve the projects and programs that are proposed in the workshop,” she said.
The BOI official highlighted the need to further develop the cold chain sector as it supports “deeper linkage of local agricultural production with agro-processing and food manufacturing and facilitate expanded trading whether domestic or export.”
“This will also build the capacity of traditionally food-insecure [underserved] areas to build on their food stocks, especially in times of disasters or pandemic,” she added. “More importantly, cold chain is critical in the proper handling of vaccines to preserve their potency and efficacy.”
The road map seeks to cater to both food and non-food industries, including meat, fisheries and aquaculture, dairy, fruits and vegetables, pharmaceuticals and electronics.
The cold-chain industry also helps in distributing the agricultural products of smallholder farmers to other markets as well, according to Food Cold Chain Project National Policy Coordinator Mae Valdez. Valdez added the industry also helps create buffer food stock during crises and disasters.
Meanwhile, she sounded the alarm on the lack of cold infrastructure in the country, which are mostly operated by big companies, malls, supermarkets and retail store chains.
Valdez attributed this to the type and structure of domestic regulations, as well as their enforcement. The “inefficient” enforcement of regulations, she said, were due to regulators having insufficient staff; and lack of effective communication and consultation between the regulators and private entities, among others.
COLD Chain Association of the Philippines (CCAP) President Anthony S. Dizon said it is crucial to identify the locations needing cold chain facilities to attract investments. By doing so, he said that products will be distributed in such areas, encouraging backward integration of production by companies.
Dizon, who is also vice chairman of the NC3, said the investment climate should be conducive for foreign investments to allow further technology transfer and market access, stressing the need to promote ease of doing business further.
As such, Dizon said that the government should address any deterrent for foreign investments. He proposed to relax the rules on land use and to ensure secure power supply.
Dizon added that government units should also provide incentives to boost investments.
Improving better road infrastructure networks and marine transportation facilities is also a must, he said, to allow movement of goods.
“It is also necessary to address investors’ concerns with the cost of operating cold chain logistics services, particularly fuel costs and the required passage fees collected at ports and by LGUs,” he said.
Lastly, the CCAP official proposed to streamline the franchising procedures for cold chain logistics services.
In December last year, the BOI and its partner industry stakeholders Cold Chain Industry Roadmap to address the logistics for Covid-19 vaccines, which are subject to storage at specific temperatures.