MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured the nearly 14 million residents of Metro Manila that there is enough supply of food, as the capital prepares for the lockdown or so-called “community quarantine” due to the novel coronavirus starting March 15.
At the same time, Dar said on Friday, March 13, that the lockdown is also an “opportune time” for residents to consider gardening or aquaculture in their “respective backyards, verandas, roof tops, and designated areas in the barangay, school or community.”
The Department of Agriculture is still finalizing its food resiliency action plan.
Dar said the plan includes strategic positioning and efficient distribution of basic food commodities, including the monitoring of suggested retail prices in public markets in Metro Manila.
Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan reiterated that movement of agricultural goods will not be affected.
Cayanan said that the agency is considering implementing “fast lanes” for vehicles carrying agricultural products.
“We call on the general public to buy only their daily or weekly food requirements and refrain from overstocking or panic buying,” Dar appealed on Friday, March 13. (READ: Hoarding, overpricing would lead to criminal charges, warns DTI)
Current rice inventory at various National Food Authority warehouses nationwide is good for at least 80 days and will be further augmented by the incoming palay harvest this current dry season, providing additional stocks for another 2 to 3 months.
About 929,358 metric tons (MT) of rice will be made available for Metro Manila for the next 9 months.
The Department of Agriculture estimated demand in Metro Manila to be over 26,000 MT. Over 55,000 MT would come from Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon.
Dar also assured Metro Manila residents that other basic food items like pork, chicken, eggs, other poultry products, fish, vegetables, fruits, sugar, cooking oil, and other coconut by-products are sufficient.
The agency also reminded retailers of suggested retail prices of the following commodities:
Sugar (brown)- P45/kilo
Sugar (refined)- P50/kilo
Garlic- P70 to P120/kilo
Red onion- P95/kilo
The DA said that prices should not exceed 10% of the suggested retail price.
The Department of Trade and Industry earlier issued a price freeze amid the spread of the novel coronavirus. – Rappler.com