MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte should create a task force to ensure that farm produce and fish continue to be delivered to markets despite the lockdown of Luzon due to COVID-19, an agriculture advocacy group said on Thursday.
Alyansa Agrikultura chairman Ernesto Ordoñes said while the government has already issued orders to allow farmers and fishermen to continue working, this was not relayed clearly to many barangays where farmers and fisherfolk live.
“This (order) did not reach the ground so barangays felt that they should accost everyone who goes out of their house (during the quarantine),” Ordoñez said in an interview with ANC.
Many traders have also stopped delivering produce, livestock and fish because they are wary of getting stopped at checkpoints, he said.
This is why the government should take the lead by forming a task force solely devoted to ensuring that the food supply chain is not disrupted, Ordoñez said.
Following reports that many farmers were unable to sell their produce to traders and have them delivered to markets, Ordoñez suggested using vehicles of the National Food Authority and even the military to deliver these goods.
“If we don’t plan this carefully, we can get into real trouble.”
Ordoñez, who was Agriculture and Trade Undersecretary during the term of President Fidel Ramos, said ensuring a stable food supply was as important as “curing the sick.”