ALL food passes in use by accredited truckers of agricultural goods have been revalidated following the extension of Luzon’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

The food passes, which allow cargoes to bypass checkpoints, were given extended validity by DA Memorandum Circular No. 11. The passes apply to cargoes of rice, vegetables, fruits, meat and processed products, farm inputs, raw materials, and equipment.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said Tuesday in a statement: “The extension aims to ensure the seamless and smooth transport of food, cargoes, and agri-fishery inputs essential to food production and processing, including the movement of our frontliners — farmers, fishers, and workers in food processing facilities — across the country.”

All food passes issued starting March 18 are deemed valid until the end of the month.

Truckers are still subject to health checks at the checkpoints, including temperature readings.

The DA has issued a total of 73,189 food passes.

DA bureaus have also issued their own passes including the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for fish products, the National Meat Inspection Service for meat, and the Bureau of Animal Industry for live hogs, poultry, and other farm animals.

“We are calling on all DA regional field offices (RFOs) to coordinate with their respective local government units, including the Philippine National Police to ensure that the extension will be honored at all checkpoints nationwide,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar also issued a new estimate for the national rice inventory, which he said is sufficient for 84 days.

“We earlier said that we have rice supply for the country good for 75 days. With the implementation of the Plant, Plant, Plant Program, we are optimistic to produce an additional 9-day supply going into the lean months of July to September,” Mr. Dar said.

The DA said the rice supply will be augmented by the expected wet-season harvest and imports, the volume of which can be estimated via the sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs).

“At a conservative assumption of 70% adoption rate of the Plant, Plant, Plant Program interventions on rice, we can produce an additional 1.3 million MT. Add that to our projected local production and imports with SPSICs of 1.86 million MT, we will have a year-end stock good for more than three months,” Mr. Dar said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recently approved P8.5 billion for the Rice Resiliency Project under the Plant, Plant, Plant program.

By the end of 2020, the DA’s rice resiliency project aims to boost palay production to 22.12 million MT, equivalent to 13.51 million MT of rice after milling.

DA also estimated that six regions will have insufficient local supply of rice by the end of the year.

These are the Cordillera Administrative Region, the National Capital Region, Region IV-A, also known as Calabarzon, Region VII or the Central Visayas, Region XI of the Davao Region, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“We will preposition rice stocks to meet the demands in rice-deficit regions,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave