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Farmers, fishing communities to have access to reefer vans

FARMERS and fishing communities will now have an access to refrigerated container vans or reefer vans to preserve the quality of their perishable goods and to reduce waste and fetch reasonable prices.

The availability of the equipment is made possible through a tripartite agreement recently forged by Agriculture Secretary William Dar; Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

The agreement aims to strengthen and expand the implementation of the existing “Palamigan ng Bayan” program for the agri-fishery sector in strategic areas nationwide.

In 2018, the DOTr led the “Palamigan ng Bayan” program, wherein a dozen reefer vans were deployed in selected sites, that served as cold storage facilities of farmers and fishers to preserve the quality of perishable goods, reduce wastage and fetch reasonable prices.

This time the DOTr partnered with the DA and DOE not only to strengthen the “Palamigan ng Bayan” program, but also to expand and sustain it to cover more areas and thus benefit more farmers and fishers nationwide.

Noon, mag-isa naming itinataguyod yang programa. Nababagalan kami kaya nakipagkapit-bisig kami sa DA at DOE, upang sa ganun ay uusad at mapapabilis ang proyektong ito,” said Tugade, highlighting that the tripartite partnership will help address concerns on food shortage and high food prices.

Recognizing the commitment of DOTr and DOE, 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 percent (%).

Kung mayroon tayong mga 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,” Dar added.

Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA), the three agencies will promote the use of refrigerated container vans as cold storage facilities to store fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat products, and other perishable goods to address concerns on food quality and safety.

They also committed to ensure the steady and affordable supply of farm and fishery products in support of the 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.

In the same agreement, the DA will identify priority areas where the reefer vans from DOTr will be established in partnership with qualified farmers’ and fishers’ groups.

The DOE, on the other hand, will provide assistance in ensuring the needed energy access for the efficient and uninterrupted operation of the reefer vans.

For his part, Cusi said the strong partnership among the three agencies will ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the “Palamigan ng Bayan” program.