DA focused on fixing supply-chain issues to address shortages

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farm to market road Iloilo

A NEWLY appointed undersecretary said the Department of Agriculture (DA) is currently focused on improving the supply chain for farm produce to address complaints by manufacturers of inadequate raw materials, which is forcing them to resort to imports.

Undersecretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Jose Gabriel M. La Viña told reporters late Monday that Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol’s marching orders for him include addressing supply chain problems in agriculture.

“The manufacturers say that we do not have enough raw materials, that’s why we have to import. The producers say that we don’t have enough people to sell to,” he said.

“We have to map out the needs of the manufacturers here and somehow, match that with the producers,” he said.

Mr. La Viña said his mandate also includes the development of rubber production in the Philippines, which is the sixth-largest producer of natural rubber. The rubber industry is poised to serve a proposed tire factory in Mindanao.

Mr. La Viña said that Mr. Piñol also told him to set up more outlets under the TienDA Para sa Bayani program, a “farmer’s market” style initiative which enables growers to sell their produce directly.

The DA is set to inaugurate the fourth TienDA Para sa Bayani in Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro, by next week. The department hopes to have about 10 to 20 such outlets. He added that he has special instructions to set up such outlets for military pesonnel at bases nationwide.

“There are still some problems that we need to resolve such as the cost of the goods. These are the things we’re looking at — how to bring the prices down so that the soldiers will really decide to go there rather than the markets.”

He added he has instructions to ensure that producers can supply agricultural goods to South Korean supermarket chain E-Mart.

Mr. Duterte signed a P28-million agricultural supply agreement during his visit to South Korea earlier this month. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato