President orders more rice for Metro Manila
Manila (5 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered urgent measures to make ample and affordable rice available in consumer markets, especially in Metro Manila.
In yesterday's Cabinet meeting, she told the National Food Authority (NFA) to boost deliveries in areas where supply is tight and prices are up due to harvests delayed by the dry spell.
The President ordered Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to speedily move rice to Luzon from Visayas and Mindanao, where there was no dry spell delaying harvests by one month. NFA was also told to draw down its stocks to supply much more than the usual 30 percent of Metro Manila consumption that the agency usually provides. NFA can replenish its granaries from 260,000 tons of imported rice due to arrive in October and November.
Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo said the President also instructed the National Nutrition Center (NNC) and the Anti-Hunger Task Force to fast-track ongoing hunger-mitigation programs which have succeeded in cutting severe hunger by half over the past year, and lowering overall hunger incidence nationwide. She ordered special attention to Metro Manila, the only region where hunger rose in the last survey in late June.
President Arroyo also instructed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to open 13 Barangay Food Terminals (BFTs) to serve an additional half a million families in high-density barangay like Batasan Hills and Pansol in Quezon City and Baseco in Manila. BFTs sell low-cost food coming directly from rural cooperatives, cutting out middlemen and boosting earnings of farmers.
DA and NNC will also ensure that Tindahan Natin outlets planned this year to sell NFA rice and cheap noodles are all open by the end of the month. There are 200 such outlets due to be operational in Metro Manila, and another 300 in the provinces.
The President also instructed the NNC to accelerate the simultaneous community-based training programs for Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) to provide counseling for mothers on the importance of breast-feeding. The council, alongside the Department of Education, will also immediately resume the food-for-school program to provide regular supply of rice to poor families through their children in school.
Farmers affected by the recent dry spell are also given priority. To date, some P5 million has already been released to assist farmers in affected areas. To further help them cope with harvest delays and income losses, the President instructed the DA to identify beneficiary areas for the implementation of the "food-for-work" and "cash-for-work" programs to assist farmers augment their losses in income due to the dry spell. (OPS) [top]