Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Saturday expressed commitment on the continued supply of adequate food at reasonable prices to consumers nationwide amid the national state of emergency imposed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We are heartened that during the 21st teleconference of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), we approved ‘that all agriculture and fishery stakeholders must be considered front-liners and their movements shall remain unhampered’,” Dar said in a press release.
“Indeed, now more than ever, our food security front-liners – farmers, fishers and other workers in the food value chain – will play a crucial part in our fight against Covid-19. That’s why it is important that we continue to empower them to ensure continued production and delivery of food to our countrymen,” he added.
Dar also thanked the IATF for approving the “Plant, Plant, Plant” Program or Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Laban sa Covid-19, part of which is the PHP8.5-billion fund for the Rice Resiliency Project to expand production areas, improve yields, and ensure availability of rice in the country.
“The ‘Plant, Plant, Plant’ Program aims to further improve our food adequacy levels through increased rice, food crops, livestock, poultry and fish production, including that of attaining efficient food processing, marketing, and distribution to major consumption centers,” he added.
Dar said under the Rice Resiliency Project, the department seeks to boost palay (unhusked rice) production by the end of 2020 to 22.12 million metric tons (MMT), equivalent to 13.51 MMT of rice or 93 percent of the country’s total rice demand at 14.46 MMT.
“Right after the current dry season, we will urge farmers to plant more areas by providing them quality seeds, fertilizers, and appropriate technical assistance,” he said.
The rice resiliency project will cover more areas this main cropping season, totaling 2.7 million hectares, broken down into 1.2 million hectares under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to be planted to inbred rice; 550,000 hectares planted to hybrid; and 950,000 hectares to inbred rice.
“In all, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of our rice, corn, coconut, vegetable, sugar and commercial crop farmers and fishers, and other players in the food value chain, in ensuring stable food supply, especially to Metro Manila and other urban centers, in this challenging time amid the enhanced community quarantine or ECQ due to Covid-19,” Dar said. (PNA)