Gov't assures public enough supply of basic foodstuff for Christmas season
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (24 September) -- As the Christmas season nears the Government assures the public of enough supply of rice, vegetables, chicken and other basic food items even as prices of rice and chicken have surged as a result of the long dry spell that had struck Luzon recently.
The Department of Agriculture continues to put in place various measures to help ensure ample stocks of the basic foodstuff including meat and chicken at affordable prices are available between now and the yearend.
Agriculture Secretary Arturo Yap assured that "we have no problem when it comes to rice this December as we have sufficient stock in the National Food Authority warehouses and as we move towards October, November and December, palay harvests would come in."
As for the supply of chicken, Yap said that because the poultry sector is on the recovery mode now as a result of the dry spell that hit Luzon, growers would have to import some three million kilos of chicken to ensure sufficient supply of the commodity during the holidays.
On the other hand, pork would be abundant 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, he added.
The supply of vegetables especially the upland varieties, would also remain stable as additional production areas developed in Laguna and Quezon would augment any unexpected losses in Benguet and other Northern Luzon provinces triggered by abrupt weather changes.
Yap noted that the 28 bagsakan centers and barangay food terminals opened by the DA will serve as consolidation centers where our farmers can trade their goods without going through middlemen and thus insure affordable prices to low-income consumers.
To offset the expected losses incurred in the four Luzon regions hit by the dry spell, the DA Yap said, has implemented a "quick turnaround" or QTA program that involves a third cropping season in the Visayas and Mindanao.
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 be more than enough to cover the expected losses in Luzon.
As of mid-August the DA has released over P200 million-worth of assistance 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 La Union) [top]