The departments of agriculture, transportation, and energy agreed to provide farming and fishing communities access to refrigerated container vans or reefer containers serving as cold storage facilities
The memorandum of agreement aims to strengthen and expand implementation of the existing “Palamigan ng Bayan” program for the agri-fishery sector nationwide
The program is seen to boost the agriculture sector by helping reduce heavy farm and fishery post-harvest losses
The departments of agriculture (DA), transportation (DOTr), and energy (DOE) have signed a tripartite memorandum of agreement (MOA) to provide farming and fishing communities access to refrigerated container vans or reefer containers that will serve as cold storage facilities.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on March 12, 2021 signed the MOA to strengthen and expand the implementation of the existing “Palamigan ng Bayan” program for the agri-fishery sector in strategic areas nationwide.
The Palamigan ng Bayan was started in 2018 by DOTr and its attached agency, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), in partnership with the private sector. The program saw a dozen reefer containers deployed to selected sites to serve as cold storage facilities for farmers and fishers to preserve the quality of perishable goods, reduce wastage and fetch reasonable prices.
The reefer containers were donated by the Association of International Shipping Lines, an organization of foreign carriers calling Philippine ports, and deployed in Bataan, Cebu, Aurora, Bohol, Cagayan, Iloilo, Romblon, and Leyte.
With the MOA, the program will be expanded and sustained to cover more areas and allow more farmers and fishers nationwide to benefit.
Dar said the program will be a big boost to the agriculture sector because it will help reduce farm and fishery post-harvest losses, which currently range from 15% to 30%.
“[If we have] container reefer vans, we could therefore save by 15 to 30% our postharvest losses and make additional quality and reasonably-priced food available for our countrymen. Maliban dito, ang mga produkto ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda ay darating sa merkado nang sariwa at mas malaki ang kanila kikitain [The products of our farmers and fishermen will also arrive at the market fresh, resulting in bigger earnings],” Dar said in a statement.
Under the MOA, the three agencies will promote the use of reefer containers as cold storage facilities to store fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat products, and other perishable goods to address concerns on food quality and safety.
The agencies also committed to ensure the steady and affordable supply of farm and fishery products in support of DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant program and food security agenda, provide technical and other support services to farmers and fisherfolk, and promote continuing technology innovation.
Under the MOA, DA will identify priority areas where the reefer containers will be established in partnership with qualified farmers’ and fishers’ groups.
The DOE, on the other hand, will help ensure the needed energy access for the efficient and uninterrupted operation of the reefer vans.
A joint technical working group will be constituted to discuss the needed policy, technical requirements and related concerns in view of the initiative.