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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has made bringing down the price of basic goods and services as one of his priorities, symbolized by his taking on the agriculture portfolio.
One of Marcos’ plans to achieve this is through the Kadiwa Program, in which agricultural products produced by Farmers and Fisherfolk Cooperatives and Associations (FCAs) and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) are brought by the government directly to consumers through strategically located Kadiwa stores.
Here’s a look at the well-publicized Kadiwa Program.
Retail selling and online
Not all Kadiwa stores are the same. The Kadiwa store near you might be different from the one in your neighboring village, town, or city.
An official of the Department of Agriculture – Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (DA-AMAS), who requested anonymity, explained that there are two main modalities under the Kadiwa Program: Kadiwa retail selling and Kadiwa online.
The Kadiwa stores that people see in their localities are under Kadiwa retail selling, which is further broken down into three sub-categories – Kadiwa stores, Kadiwa pop-up stores, and Kadiwa on wheels:
- Kadiwa stores – permanent stores managed, operated, and owned by FCA and CBO beneficiaries of the Enhanced Kadiwa Grant except those supervised by AMAS.
- Kadiwa pop-up stores – areas where FCAs and CBOs can directly sell to consumers without having to pay fees to use the area. However, these areas can only be used for a certain period of time or on a temporary basis. These pop-up stores are supervised by AMAS.
- Kadiwa on wheels – mobile stores that use the Kadiwa on wheels truck, a roving vehicle that can visit multiple sites in one day.
How many people are reached or served by Kadiwa outlets?
The DA-AMAS official told Rappler that in 2022, the Kadiwa Program served a total of 1.82 million households, conducted 34,794 selling activities, and generated P621 million in sales. It would be hard to determine how many repeat buyers there were among these households. Regardless, the Kadiwa program has not been able to serve all 5.6 million poor families in 2022, based on the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Listahan 3 survey.
Records from the DA-AMAS show that there are currently 215 Kadiwa stores, 60 Kadiwa pop-up stores, and 23 Kadiwa on wheels nationwide.
‘Illusion’ of fixing the problem?
Former socio-economic planning secretary and economics professor Solita Winnie Monsod is not impressed by the impact of Kadiwa stores in relation to the upsurge in onion prices which has affected all households. She cited a particular incident where onions, which the DA bought at P140 million from a multi-purpose cooperative at a reported price of P537 per kilo, were sold in the Kadiwa stores at P170 per kilo.
“Each customer was allowed to buy 1 kg. Do the arithmetic, Reader. The P140 million could buy 260,707.6 kgs of onions. Assuming they sold it all (it seems they didn’t spend the whole amount), and assuming that each kg. sold represented one family, that means 261,000 families were accommodated. Compare that with the 25 million families in the Philippines,” she said in a recent blog on the high prices of onions.
“Management by illusion,” said Monsod, recalling what former Marcos executive secretary Rafael Salas (who would later exit his Cabinet) said of his boss’ leadership style.
Kadiwa: Then and now
The Kadiwa Program was already revived twice by two chief executives: former presidents Joseph Estrada and Rodrigo Duterte.
Although Marcos’ Kadiwa Program is an extension of Duterte’s reboot of the program, the reason why Kadiwa is so close to Marcos Jr.’s heart is that it was first implemented during his father’s presidency.
According to an article published by VERA Files, the birth of Kadiwa stores can be attributed to the oil crisis of 1973 and 1979 which resulted in soaring food prices.
Jürgen Rüland, said in a 1986 article in the Asian Journal of Public Administration, that the inspiration for the Kadiwa Program was the “rolling stores” project of the Metropolitan Manila Commission (MMC) in 1979.
At the time, the MMC was led by Imelda Marcos, wife of then-president Ferdinand E. Marcos and mother of the current president.
In his book, From Parastatals to Private Trade: Lessons from Asian Agriculture, Ramon L. Clarete said that after the elder Marcos designated Imelda as National Food Authority head, the agency launched the Kadiwa Program.
The original Kadiwa Program, just like today, operated mobile and retail stores where basic food items like rice, sugar, cooking oil, coffee, milk, and noodles were sold at subsidized prices.
However, while the Kadiwa Program had its pros, it also had its cons.
Leandro A. Viloria and Dolores A. Endriga, in their perception study published in the October 1984 issue of the Philippine Planning Journal, said that many poor families were discouraged from buying from Kadiwa stores due to long queues, and many of the stores were not near their households. In some localities, there were no Kadiwa stores at all.
“Distance, time and money involved in going to other areas for the service prevented the poor from availing of the program,” Viloria and Endriga said in the study.
These reasons led to many people preferring alternatives to the Kadiwa stores like going to nearer wet and dry markets for lower transportation expenses, aside from having “sukis” (frequented sellers) who gave discounts from time to time.
The study also noted that those who only needed a few items depended on “sari-sari” (small neighborhood) stores because, unlike Kadiwa Stores, they could buy items on credit from these stores.
The three types of Kadiwa stores under the Kadiwa retail selling modality have different sources of funding, the DA-AMAS official said.
Kadiwa stores have the biggest slice of the program’s budget. The Enhanced Kadiwa Grant, which is given to FCAs and CBOs under this category, had a P300 million budget in 2022 and a P750 million budget in 2023.
According to the same official, the beneficiaries of this mode are from FCAs, CBOs, state universities (SUCs), and local government units (LGUs).
These beneficiaries apply for the grant to establish a Kadiwa store. If the FCAs and CBOs cannot comply with the requirements for the grant, they can apply through their respective LGUs.
The two other types of Kadiwa stores under the same modality had a combined budget of P35,521,000 in 2022 and P18,125,000 in 2023.
The Kadiwa stores are not intended to be permanent. Marcos said that the Kadiwa stores will only remain open until the prices of basic commodities have stabilized. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Philippines’ inflation rate soared to 8.1% in December 2022, the highest since November 2008.
“Once we get to a point where it’s no longer necessary, where the prices in the markets are the same as what we can give in the Kadiwa, then we don’t need the Kadiwa anymore,” Marcos told reporters on December 1, 2022. – Rappler.com