The Departments of Agriculture (DA), Energy (DoE) and Transportation (DoTr) have signed an agreement to expand the “Palamigan ng Bayan” program to improve access to cold storage in farming and fishing communities.

In a statement Friday, the DoE said that the memorandum of agreement (MoA) ensures that “farm-fresh produce, fish and seafood are safely and properly stored in cold storage units before they are transported to other areas.”

Cold storage allows farming and fishing community to preserve their produce and smooth out the supply of such commodities, allowing them to ride out shortages or episodes of price volatility.

The DoE said that the agriculture department sees the agreement as an “opportunity to mitigate the contraction of supply in Metro Manila, while providing new markets for products offered by ‘neglected’ producers from rural communities.”

The expansion of program will allow farmers from Benguet and Bukidnon ready access to markets in Luzon, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said.

The agreement was signed Friday by Mr. Dar, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi and Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade at the DoE headquarters in Taguig.

“This is a testament to the whole-of-government approach, where the administration is determined to make sure that no Filipino will go hungry, and progress will reach not just the urban areas, but more so, the countryside,” Mr. Cusi said.

He believes the project will help the agricultural sector “prepare for the new normal as the demand for food and prime commodities grows.”

Mr. Cusi added that access to cold storage technology will also help preventing farmers from being taken advantage of by middlemen and traders.

The program was launched by the DoTr in 2018. According to community newspaper The Bohol Chronicle, the DoTr first unveiled the program in Tagbilaran City pier to improve the distribution of perishable products, including fish, in the area. — Angelica Y. Yang