A House leader urged the national government to also give full support to the agriculture sector as the nation can rely more on the farmers and fishermen for food security in this time of crisis.
Vice chairman of House committee on appropriations and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said that to ensure food sufficiency farmers and fisherfolk should have good and enough produce to supply the needs of the people especially in Luzon wherein enhanced community quarantine is being implemented.
Since the number of Filipinos affected by the coronavirus disease continues to rise, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under lockdown which limited business operations.
And to ensure continuous food flow during this health crisis, Vargas called for stronger and targeted support for our farmers, fisherfolk, and poultry and hog-raisers in the production and transportation of their products.
“We are a largely agricultural country, which gives us a fair chance of becoming food sufficient despite the threat of economic meltdown brought to us by the ongoing threat of novel coronavirus. Assistance intended for our agriculture sector has long been in the pipeline but has not been adequately discussed,” Vargas said.
The legislator urged policymakers to provide extended credit assistance to local food producers to enable them to improve their production capacity.
Vargas further suggested that “lending facilities should be established and remain open to aid cooperatives and agri-entrepreneurs in acquiring machinery and postharvest facilities.”
“The construction of farm to market roads must also be expedited and unhampered, while maintaining social distancing of the workers. This will also address our supply and demand concerns for the long term,” he said
“Nobody knows when COVID19 crisis will end. The best we can do is to adhere to proper protocol and observe healthy diets, full of nutrient- rich food which can be supplied by the players in the agriculture sector,” the solon added.
Vargas then reiterated his call for faster flow of all cargo -and personnel - carrying vehicles with a designated special lane in all expressways and major thoroughfares, as most of their products are perishable.
In this worldwide crisis, Vargas said, Filipinos can no longer rely on imports, but instead should patronize local produce.