DA assures continuous supply of agri produce to NCR

Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured that there is a sufficient supply of agricultural produce, assuring the public that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is strictly monitoring the prices to prevent market exploitation.

“Nais po namin siguruhin na meron tayong sapat na suplay ng pagkain at itaas pa ang produksyon ng mga ito, kabilang ang bigas, karne, isda, at gulay. [We want to ensure that we have a sufficient supply of food and increase the production of major staples, including rice, meat, fish, and vegetables],” Secretary Dar said.

The DA-Regional Field Office 3 (Central Luzon) has likewise assured a continuous supply of agricultural produce from the region to the National Capital Region (NCR) amid the pandemic.

Regional Director Crispulo Bautista Jr. attributed the low supply of agricultural produce, such as vegetables, to the past typhoons that brought massive damage to crops in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. However, he said the supply for Metro Manila will gradually return to normal as farmers in the two provinces are set to harvest their crops in February.

“Nang dahil sa dumaang apat na bagyo, malaki ang perwisyong idinulot nito sa mga magsasaka kaya nakararanas ng low supply ng vegetables sa Metro Manila. Ang mga magsasaka sa Bulacan at Nueva Ecija ay nag-replant na at by February ay magsisimula (nang) mag-harvest. [The past four typhoons caused huge damage to farms, hence the low supply of vegetables in Metro Manila. Farmers in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija have replanted and by February, they would start harvesting their crops],” he said.

Based on data from the DA agribusiness and marketing assistance division, Central Luzon has supplied 146,245 kg. of lowland vegetables to Metro Manila since the start of the year.

Data from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) also showed that the region delivered some 9,467 heads of hogs that are free from African Swine Fever (ASF) to Metro Manila this month.

Bautista said the food trading centers established in the region help farmers and fishermen sell their products directly to markets.

He cited the Nueva Ecija Agri-Pinoy Trading Center, which the DA established in 2015 in partnership with the provincial government, for helping farmers and fishermen earn additional income.

“Nagsisilbi rin itong sentro ng kalakalan ng mga mamimili mula sa Metro Manila at karatig na probinsiya. [It also serves as a center of trade for consumers from Metro Manila and neighboring provinces],” Bautista said. # # # (RAFIS Central Luzon)

DA, DTI, MMDA close ranks to enforce stricter rules, strategies to cut food prices

The departments of agriculture (DA) and trade and industry (DTI), Metro Manila chief executives, and MM Development Authority (MMDA) officials forged an agreement to impose stricter measures to ease the rising prices of basic food commodities, particularly pork and vegetables sold in public markets in the metropolis.

“We agreed on several strategies to bring down the prices of basic food items sold in Metro Manila public markets,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar, during a virtual meeting with DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, MMDA Chair Benhur Abalos, and several Metro Manila mayors held on January 21, 2021.

“First, we will strengthen the local price coordinating councils (LPCCs) for them to clamp down on wholesalers, traders, and retailers, who unreasonably jack up prices and take advantage of the current tight supply situation in pork and vegetables,” added the DA chief.

“Second, from hereon we will require them to register so we will know who they are, and thereafter monitor them regularly,” he added.

These twin measures will be done under the leadership of the respective mayors and market supervisors, in coordination with the DA and DTI, Secretary Dar said.

For his part, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said, “we at the DTI are also here to give support on the tasks given us, such as in price monitoring. We hope that we can come up with a clear price list and corresponding price control, for the guidance and compliance of traders and retailers. Further, it is an important thing to have a list of participants in the value chain.”

On the other hand, MMDA Chair Benhur Abalos, addressing the Metro Manila Mayors, said, “We are here to listen to secretaries Dar and Lopez to find ways to help the government.”

Then he committed, saying, “We at the MMDA and the Metro Manila Mayors will help in elevating the price monitoring, enforcement, and adjudication process.”

For his part, Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano appreciated the DA and its Kadiwa marketing program, noting, “Thank you Secretary Dar for all your efforts. Nagbabagsak kayo sa amin ng bigas at gulay, sa mga maliliit na market dito sa Taguig. We will help form a team to monitor food prices.”

In all, Secretary Dar said other measures were discussed and agreed upon, namely:

·         For MM Mayors to identify areas where farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) can deliver and sell their products directly through the DA Kadiwa marketing program;

·         Closely monitor major public market retailers, traders, and wholesalers for Price Act violations; Support the immediate and medium-term initiatives of the DA and DTI to stabilize food supply and prices;

·         Recommend to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte the imposition of a “price freeze” on selected food items like pork, chicken, fish, and vegetables. In particular, the DA is recommending a price ceiling of P270/kg for kasim pigue, P300/kg for liempo, and P160/kg for dressed chicken.

The President previously imposed a 60-day price freeze in November last year, following the declaration of a state of calamity in Luzon in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses.

It covered basic food items like rice, pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, root crops, sugar, fresh fruits, canned fish, and other marine products, among basic commodities. # # # (DA StratComms)

NTA Kadiwa tapped to help ease pork shortage in Metro

The Governing Board of the National Tobacco Administration on Tuesday has approved an additional P10-million budget for its Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita to maximize its slaughtering and meat processing capacity to augment pork supply in the market.

Agriculture Secretary and NTA Board Chairman William Dar in his recent visit to the slaughtering and meat processing facility in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, directed the agency to expand the product coverage of the NTA Kadiwa to the National Capital Region to meet the high demand and help stabilize price.

Prices of pork in Metro Manila markets have gone up from 380 to 400 pesos per kilo as many hog raisers gone bankrupt last year because of the pandemic that resulted in a minimal source of hogs. 

According to NTA Administrator Robert Victor G. Seares Jr., the NTA will assist the government, through the Department of Agriculture, to stop the continuous rise of prices of pork in NCR markets.

The P10-million budget represents the initial budgetary requirement to purchase live hogs from the Ilocos provinces and Abra.

“The hogs will be sourced from ASF protected zones to ensure safety of the consuming public,” Seares said.

He added that the hogs will be slaughtered at the NTA Kadiwa and the meat will be delivered to the NCR through the Kadiwa Food Terminals of the Department of Agriculture, at an average volume of 5,000 metric tons per day.

The project will be a collaboration between the NTA Kadiwa, the DA Central Office through the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service/Division with the Food Terminal, Inc..

The NTA Kadiwa, an NMIS “AA” accredited facility, had a maximum capacity to slaughter 80 hogs and fabricate 6 tons of pork per day.

“The initial target for slaughtering will be 520 live hogs or 52,000 kilos live weight from second week of February to first week of March,” added Seares.

Kadiwa is a market system initiated by the DA to trade agricultural goods at a reasonable low price to the end users. This is a direct link between the farmers/fisherfolks to the consuming public.

NTA Kadiwa is a major component of the agency’s intervention program that seeks to provide tobacco farmers with additional sources of income outside their regular trade.

Secretary Dar in his visit to the slaughtering and meat processing facility commended the NTA in undertaking the project.

The agency is currently implementing under the NTA Kadiwa program a Hog Fattening project, poultry dressing, and the TESDA-accredited Training School for Slaughtering.