QUEZON CITY, July 11 (PIA) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) adapted a new food security development framework that would compel stakeholders to transform their system from production to consumption — and all places in between — to do things differently, said Agriculture Secretary William Dar during the Pre-State of the Nation Address (Pre-SONA) Forum.
The three-part Pre-SONA series kicked off on July 8 with no live audience to follow social distancing and safety protocols. Viewers can catch parts 2 and 3 live streaming on the official Facebook pages of PCOO, Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), and various government agencies on July 15 and 22, respectively.
The COVID pandemic is unprecedented, impacting on food systems, disrupting agricultural value chains and movement, and posing risks to household food security, Dar said.
Thus, DA looks at the four policy shifts to highlight during this new normal: production vis-a-vis consumption; interconnection of the food system to other systems and sectors; address hunger and malnutrition; and monitor provided solutions in the urban and rural contexts.
DA sees production as equally important as consumption as the imposition of community quarantine restricts movements of goods and food supplies.
“Focusing on production is equally important as consumption — empowering those marginalized in the system, and supporting diverse distribution efforts,” the agriculture chief said.
“This last 100 days we have seen na ang pinaka problema po dito ay… logistics and movement of food supplies,” he said.
Despite this, the DA chief assured the public that, “we have enough food supplies during the last 100 days and we will continue to have enough food supplies in the next 6 months and beyond.”
The agriculture sector also collaborated with other sectors to build back better.
“Now another shift ay to recognize the food system’s interconnectedness with other systems and sectors kagaya po sa economy, sa health sector, and environment towards building resilience overall,” Dar pointed out.
Dar said addressing hunger and all forms of malnutrition such as obesity and micronutrient deficiency is also the department’s priority.
“We have now to look at quality food, good nutrition, balanced nutrition, and the like,” he stressed.
“We should see to it that the solutions that we provide in terms of ensuring food security are context-specific, and recognizing the differences between urban and rural areas,” he advised.
During this pandemic, Dar said, 50% of the farmers and fishers were disrupted and 35% of them were not able to market their produce.
“So we had KADIWA ni ANI at KITA that brings a stronger partnership with agribusiness people tracking the produce from the trading points from, let’s say, from Benguet, from Nueva Ecija, from Sariaya [in] Quezon, and many other points towards the metro areas,” Dar mentioned.
“The sales as a result of the intervention coming from KADIWA ay nasa level ng P5.5 B, so it’s formidable… it is such an important intervention that we will continue to institutionalize even under this new normal,” he stated.
He also encouraged local chief executives to buy raw products from their domestic farmers; as a result, they have generated Php2.5B worth of food packs which were locally distributed.
DA has put in place an overall umbrella program “Plant Plant Plant Program” to raise the food sufficiency level during this new normal — the overarching goal of ensuring food security of the country.
“So this is true not only for crops but for livestock, vegetables, fruits, and fisheries,” Dar clarified.
As the DA continues to monitor the implementation of programs for farmers and fisherfolk, he assured the public that there is enough food produce in the market.
“We are there nurturing and catalyzing all these efforts in tandem with various stakeholders [and] the LGUs, so that the level of productivity that we have to have, and the desired income for the farming and fishing sector will happen,” he declared. (MCG/PIA-IDPD)