THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will open more mobile produce markets sourcing directly from farmers to ensure sufficient food for the Metro Manila during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The mobile markets, operated under a program known as Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita, and known as Kadiwa on Wheels, will cover Quezon City, Pateros, Caloocan, Taguig and Pasig, according to Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Services Kristine Y. Evangelista.

“We have engaged Pateros, Quezon City, Caloocan, Taguig, and Pasig for the services of Kadiwa on Wheels. The number is growing and in the next weeks, we expect more orders from other LGUs (local government units) in metropolitan areas,” Ms. Evangelista said.

The DA has been preoccupied with ensuring the continued flow of food into urban areas as Metro Manila throws up checkpoints in an attempt to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic, at the cost of delaying deliveries of produce. It is also trying to persuade LGUs to use more fresh produce in their food packs for their more vulnerable citizens, rather than the typical ration of canned food.

Ms. Evangelista said the Quezon City location for the mobile markets will be in the Elliptical Road area, where the DA is located.

DA plans to deliver 10 to 12 metric tons of produce to sustain the Kadiwa operations in the capital.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the DA will open more outlets to serve urban families, and provide Luzon agricultural producers direct market access to improve their earnings.

“We are hoping to provide an assured market for our farmers and fisheries, while providing cheaper and nutritious food to our people, especially in this time of crisis,” Mr. Dar said.

The DA also distributed free vegetable seed and planting materials across the country to encourage urban agriculture with supply chains disrupted due to COVID-19.

Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Assistant Director Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban said vacant areas can be converted to community vegetable gardens.

The BPI, has led the distribution of seed for eggplant, tomato, upo, sitao, okra, upland kangkong, mustard, pechay, alugbati, saluyot, and onions.

“We urge the public to join us in promoting this urban agriculture program to ensure a continuous supply of home-grown nutritious vegetables on the tables of every Filipino household,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave