Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar assured that the country’s rice supply at the end of March will be enough to feed Filipinos up to the next four months despite the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“With harvest already coming in, along with the steady arrival of imported rice, we expect no shortage of the staple during the duration of the enhanced community quarantine and beyond,” Dar said.
Filipinos consume an average of 35,369 MT per day, or about 1.2 million MT per month, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The country’s rice stock, meanwhile, is seen to rise to 2.66 million MT by the end of March, good for 75 days. This will be augmented by importation and new harvests.
“By end of June, rice inventory level is projected at 2.38 million MT, which is enough for 67 days. As a strategy, the DA will maximize government-supported expansion areas as a catch-up plan to stabilize food availability,” Dar said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is now considering early planting in most areas, including Regions 2 and 3, to boost production during the third quarter of 2020. The DA will also expand coverage in area planted, on top of the existing rice production areas covered by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. At the same time, the use of hybrid seeds is encouraged to boost productivity.
Dar assured that the DA is trying its best to cover all areas and concerns to ensure that Filipinos will have a stable supply of rice and other agricultural commodities.
The agri chief reiterated the importance of ensuring the unhampered movement of food commodities, as well as agri-fishery products, inputs, activities and personnel in the food value chain amid the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.
“We can’t be complacent now. Cooperation, coordination, and understanding of each other’s plight can go a long way. Let’s help each other, consumer and producers alike,” Dar said.
Likewise, Secretary Dar called for the establishment of so-called mobility corridors for the food supply chain to move with ease –including personnel, processing, delivery, distribution, and management in food production.