DA assures public of stable supply of basic food items for Christmas season
Quezon City (20 September) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is assuring the public of a stable supply of rice, vegetables, chicken and other basic food items this Christmas season, despite the prolonged dry spell that had struck Luzon.
"We continue to put in place a variety of measures to help ensure enough stocks of rice, chicken, meat, vegetables and other basic foodstuff at affordable prices on family tables between now and the yearend." Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has said.
Yap said the National Food Authority has already accounted for the supply of rice for the rest of the year and has already ascertained that there will be enough buffer stock for this staple until the yearend.
Because of the recent dry spell, the lean months of July to September for planting palay stretched up to October, which means that the main harvest for the wet cropping season would come starting in November yet.
"We have no problem when it comes to the supply of rice this December," said Yap in a recent news forum. "As we move towards October, November, December, our palay harvests would come in."
As for the supply of chicken, Yap said that poultry growers have assured him during a recent meeting of the poultry stakeholders that they "have loaded enough chicken for the Christmas season."
He said that because the poultry sector is on recovery mode now as a result of the dry spell that had hit Luzon, growers would have to import some three million kilos of chicken to ensure a sufficient supply of the commodity during the holidays.
Pork, on the other hand, would be in abundant supply this season, as the recent outbreak of hog cholera in Bulacan has had no impact on the supply of the meat in the country because the disease was quickly contained and confined only to a small portion of hog farms in that province.
Yap said the supply of vegetables, especially the upland varieties, would also remain stable because of additional production areas developed in the South such as Laguna and Quezon, which would offset any unexpected losses in Benguet and other Northern Luzon provinces triggered by abrupt weather changes.
He noted that the 28 bagsakan or drop-off centers and barangay food terminals that the DA has thus far opened will play a key role in ensuring that rice and other basic food items reach Metro Manila in abundant supply and at prices affordable to low-income consumers.
"These food terminals will serve as consolidation centers where our farmers can trade their goods without going through unnecessary trading layers that cut through their profits and unduly jack up the prices of their produce in the retail market," Yap said.
In response to the dry spell that hit four Luzon regions, he said the DA has implemented a "quick turnaround" or QTA program that involves a third cropping season in the Visayas and Mindanao to offset expected rice production losses in the affected Luzon farms.
The entire QTA program for rice covers a total of 88,174 hectares, with yields expected to reach around 300,000 metric tons, which will more than enough to cover the potential production losses in Luzon.
As of mid-August, the DA has released over P200 million-worth of aid to farmers in Luzon adversely affected by the dry spell in the form of cloud-seeding operations, shallow tube wells, seeds, repair of irrigation facilities and investments in small water-impounding projects. (PIA) [top]