As the country continues to battle the challenges brought about by the ongoing pandemic, different agencies of the government remain steadfast in implementing programs to cushion the blows of the worldwide crisis.
For the last two years, the Duterte administration has worked double time to manage the effects of the pandemic and lay-out plans to counter its consequences.
Tasked to guard the food security of the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) alongside other Departments developed approaches cutting across different sectors.
According to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the threat of the disease has impacted the lives of Filipino families, with rising rates of unemployment and lockdowns affecting household supply of food.
“The unprecedented crisis forced us to tackle the goal of food security through a cross-sectoral approach of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Zero Hunger,” Dar explained.
The agriculture chief, during the second year anniversary of the Task Force, mentioned that the DA is modeling its food systems approach with that of the United Nations.
“I hope that this can be adopted by the Zero Hunger TF on top of the cross-sectoral approach to address issues in production, incomes and nutrition, processing, distribution, consumption, food safety, and sustainability and resiliency,” the agriculture head said.
He added that the country saw the importance of the agri sector during the most difficult times of the pandemic, thus tying the Philippine agriculture’s transformational agenda with economic recovery.
With food and other inputs for food production considered as essential, agriculture was recognized as a resilient sector that could tide over the economy.
“Gross domestic product may start to pick up this year, with the recession in COVID-19 cases.”
Dar reported that studies show that gross domestic product may start to pick up this year, with the recession in COVID-19 cases.
“The Asian Development Bank Outlook 2021 says that the Philippine economy will grow six percent in 2022,” he said.
However, looking beyond this growth rate, Dar expressed the need to mount efforts to ensure affordable foodstuff for everyone.
“On the back of this outlook rides the survival of Filipinos. Hunger, essentially, is an economic question. And it was poverty that sent many Filipinos into the arms of involuntary hunger,” he stressed.
According to Dar, the DA has kicked-off measures to avoid bottlenecks in the supply chain including the increased distribution of livestock and high-yielding rice and corn seeds to farmers all across the country.
The agency also magnified activities in support of the fisheries sector, building various infrastructures such as roads, bridges, postharvest facilities, and potable water systems.
“We distributed more equipment, fingerlings, planting materials, post-harvest equipment and new technology – and extended support for livelihood to more than a thousand farmers and fishers under the Special Areas for Agriculture Development Program,” he said.
Assisting both producers and consumers alike, the DA has intensified the implementation of the enhanced Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita, and partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry in organizing the Diskwento Caravan.
“This collaboration has served impoverished communities nationwide,” Dar said.
DA and DTI continue to work together to monitor the daily prices of basic commodities and ensure the orderly marketing of food items.
“All these programs have helped ensure that no Filipino family had to worry about food shortages throughout the pandemic.”
“All these programs have helped ensure that no Filipino family had to worry about food shortages throughout the pandemic. These have also created employment for many Filipinos,” he said.
Noting that the ongoing plight will not halt anytime soon, Dar stressed the need for urgency to deal with the threats of food security and committed to deploy more measures towards rehabilitation and recovery.
“The DA is particularly toughening up for the global challenges ahead that could dampen our food productivity, under the guidance of President Duterte whose leadership saw our nation through the worst global health and economic crisis in a hundred years,” he concluded.