The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved the food resiliency protocol proposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to speed up the transport of major agri-fishery commodities to Metro Manila and other urban areas in Luzon.
“We at the Department of Agriculture continue to forge a strong partnership with concerned government agencies to implement and ensure compliance to the said protocol in line with the directives of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the IATF-EID enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines,” said agriculture secretary William Dar.
“We are closely coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry, local government units, the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to untangle the unnecessary protocol imposed in ECQ checkpoints,” the DA chief Dar added.
The DA protocol also includes the free movement of farmers, fishers, workers in food processing and manufacturing firms, and food supply chain logistics providers.
“Iniiwasan po natin na mayroong mabubulok na mga gulay at iba pang produkto dahil sa mabagal na galaw ng mga ito. Let’s make food delivery efficient and fast, para walang Pilipino ang magutom,” he said.
“Maliban dito, iniiwasan nating tumaas ang presyo ng mga pagkain at pangunahing bilihin,” the DA chief added.
On March 25, Secretary Dar joined DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez in a teleconference with food value chain logistics providers to discuss and resolve major issues that hamper the free flow of various food products and cargoes to Metro Manila and other urban areas.
It was during the teleconference initiated by the DTI that he shared the DA recommendations with logistics providers, truckers, haulers, customs brokers, shipping lines, and the Bureau of Customs.
The DA protocol was also reinforced by an advisory issued by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on March 25 addressed to provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, barangay leaders, other LGU officials, and DILG regional directors and fieldmen nationwide.
In his advisory, secretary Ano reiterates that the movement of food and essential goods shall remain unhampered as set forth by the IATF-EID and pertinent issuances by the various national government agencies (NGAs), including the DA, DTI, and DILG.
“All local government units (LGUs) are advised to adhere to protocols prescribed by the IATF and concerned NGAs in ensuring food availability and sufficiency during the COVID-19 crisis,” the DILG chief said.
He added that the DA Memorandum Circular Numbers 7 and 9 series of 2020, DA strengthen the implementation of the Food Resiliency Protocol for Luzon and the entire country.
Both memos state that food production shall continue by allowing all farming and fishing activities such as land preparation, planting, crop maintenance, harvesting, threshing, drying, milling, sorting, packaging, and trading — to ensure the sufficient food supply across the country during and beyond the ECQ period.
This includes the movement of all supplies used for agriculture, including food packaging and manufacturing materials. Healthy farmers, farm workers, fishers, and agribusiness personnel shall be exempted from doing the home quarantine provided that they follow safety protocols.
Further, agricultural supply stores and veterinary clinics shall remain in operation.
The DA chief said “we continue to issue free food passes and IDs for personnel to show at checkpoints so they can move freely.