MANILA – An additional PHP22.5 billion may now be tapped by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to finance its food security program dubbed as "Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat” (ALPAS) Kontra sa Covid-19.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-IED) approved the DA recommendation to ensure sufficient food supply amid the ongoing health crisis.
“Aprubado din po ng IATF ang mga rekomendasyon ng DA para siguraduhing may murang pagkain sa ating mga palengke (The IATF has approved the recommendation of the DA to ensure affordable food in our market places),” he said in a virtual presser on Tuesday.
Nograles said the task force also approved the DA recommendation to enhance the agriculture and food processing industry in the country.
He said food and agriculture workers are also considered front-liners and should be exempted from the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine which was extended until April 30.
The task force also approved the DA recommendation to mobilize Local Price Coordinating Councils with the cooperation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to prevent the unfair surge in prices of basic goods.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar requested for a PHP31-billion supplemental budget to fund the ALPAS program.
Of the requested amount, PHP8.5 billion will be used for the rice resiliency project; PHP7 billion for palay procurement fund of the National Food Authority; and PHP3 billion for the expanded SURE Aid and recovery project.
The DA also plans to allocate PHP3 billion for expanded agriculture insurance project; PHP3 billion for social amelioration for farmers and farm workers; PHP1 billion for upscaling of KADIWA ni Ani at Kita; PHP1 billion for integrated livestock and corn resiliency project; PHP1 billion -- expanded small ruminants and poultry project; PHP1 billion -- coconut-based diversification project; PHP1 billion -- fisheries resiliency project; PHP1 billion -- revitalized gulayan project; PHP500 million -- urban agriculture project; PHP500 million -- acquisition of protective personal equipment; PHP300 million -- corn for food project; and PHP200 million -- information, education, and communications project.
In a March 21 letter to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the DA sought a supplemental budget of around PHP1 billion to fund programs meant to ensure food security and stable prices amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
He said the agency needed more funds to sustain its implementation, especially in areas where the enhanced community quarantine is strictly enforced. (PNA)