DOF to DA: Restrategize food program, supply chain

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) may have to restrategize its food programs so that regions unaffected by typhoons can provide alternative supplies of vegetables to the calamity-battered ones, immediately after a typhoon.

    The Department of Finance (DOF) said this in its latest economic bulletin on the December 2020 inflation data, as the general price level clocked a higher rate of year-on-year growth of 3.5 percent, coming from 3.3 percent in November 2020 and 2.5 percent in December 2019.

    The uptick in December was mainly on account of major food items, in particular, vegetables (19.73 percent) and meat (9.95 percent).

    “Vegetable supplies were dented by the successive typhoons that swept the country during the last quarter,” the DOF said.

    The DOF pointed out rice reversed its negative growth trend, registering a slight price increase of 0.1 percent. Regions directly battered by typhoons such as Cagayan Valley and Bicol recorded the highest rate of 6.6 percent.

    “Meat was adversely affected by the African swine fever (ASF). A stronger program to stamp out ASF needs to be set up,” it also said.

    According to the DOF, the uptick in transportation services to 8.33 percent in December from 7.63 percent the prior month also contributed to the increase in inflation rate.

    “International crude oil prices rose 10.9 percent to $48.76/barrel from $43.95/barrel in the previous month due to tighter supply arising from demand recovery,” the DOF said.

    “The year-on-year decline in prices of utilities and fuels (minus 3.38 percent), nevertheless, helped temper the increase in general price level,” it added.

    The country’s average inflation rate for 2020 however settled at 2.6 percent, only slightly higher than the 2.5 percent in 2019 and well within the two to four percent inflation target range of the government for the year.

    “Even with the low inflation environment, there is still a need to improve supply chain efficiency to ensure that prices of essential goods and services remain stable,” Karl Kedrick Chua, acting socioeconomic planning secretary, earlier said.

    Chua emphasized the need to establish processing facilities that will prevent wastage and spoilage of farm harvests, such as the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center in the Cordillera region where a large part of the country’s supply of vegetables is sourced.

    He also underscored the need to set up additional cold storage facilities, warehouses and post-harvest centers that will further improve supply management in the agriculture sector, especially in times of natural disasters or when there are surplus in harvest.

    Furthermore, online platforms such as the various Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita modalities as well as the recently launched Deliver-E – a new digital platform that directly links buyers to producers launched by the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry – will also help address issues on logistics.

    “The imminent threat of natural calamities every year highlights the need for long-term solutions such as infrastructure investments that would improve flood control, water management and irrigation systems, reforestation, climate-resilient production and processing facilities, among others,” Chua said.

    Chua also encouraged the continued use of climate-resilient varieties of seeds and technologies.