Alarmed by the sudden spike in food prices over the last month, Senator Francis Pangilinan called on government to revisit the supply food chain, with focus on logistics and transport bottlenecks.
Pangilinan in a statement said something is wrong when food prices are going up and people are going hungry even as farmers are producing more and demand exists. “Mukhang sa transport o pagbyahe nagkakatalo [Transport seems to be the problem],” he said.
“The prices of food must go down. And this can be done with proper and enough transport,” the former presidential assistant on food security and agricultural modernization said.
Price monitoring reports from the Department of Agriculture (DA) revealed that a number of agricultural products have recently increased their prices substantially. Prices have gone up by as much as P70 per kilogram for red onion, P40 per kilo for galunggong, and P10 per kilo for whole chicken, among others.
Rice prices also increased by P2 per kilo, even as palay is reportedly selling for a low of P12 per kilo in certain provinces.
The lawmaker suggested bridging the distance between consumer and producer, especially during this pandemic when going out of the house is still dangerous.
He noted some local government units (LGU) are already organizing community or mobile markets and markets on wheels, with LGUs themselves fetching from the farmers the food products and selling or making these available to their constituents.
“This is a big help in lowering food prices,” Pangilinan pointed out.
Under Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, LGUs are allowed to procure agricultural products directly from farmers and fisherfolk or agricultural cooperatives and associations.
This direct food purchase by LGUs from farmers and cooperatives has resulted in over P6 billion in sales, a first in Philippine history, according to the DA.
“Dapat bigyang pansin ito at ang kita ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda [We should pay attention to this and the incomes of our farmers and fisherfolk]. We will surely bring this up during the DA’s budget deliberations,” he added.
The DA has to defend its proposed budget in the Bayanihan funds. It was set to do this on October 12 in Senate hearings, October 16 with the Office of the Secretary, and October 19 with its attached agencies.
Bayanihan 2 also directs the adoption of measures to facilitate and improve supply chain movement and minimize disruptions to ensure essential goods, particularly food and medicine, are available.
Aside from improving the national end-to-end supply chain, it also calls for measures to reduce logistics costs “to the maximum extent possible,” especially for basic commodities and services.