AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar said the government will permit cargo vehicles delivering food to use special lanes to ensure Metro Manila is adequately supplied during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The special lanes are outlined in the DA’s Food Resiliency Action Plan.

In a news conference yesterday, Mr. Dar said the scheme’s main feature is so-called “green lanes” or “food fast lanes” at 65 entry and exit points around Metro Manila, for the duration of the community quarantine protocol.

Other typical quarantine measures will still be observed with drivers and other delivery crew subject to temperature checks.

“We are coordinating with all accredited truckers, logistics, and refrigerated van operators for the faster passage of agricultural goods,” Mr. Dar said.

The DA (Department of Agriculture) released a memorandum circular laying down the guidelines for the delivery of food and other agricultural commodities to, from, and transiting the National Capital Region throughout the 30 day community quarantine period.

The circular detailed the process of “food lane” accreditation for trucks and suppliers and the requirements for their registration.

Accredited suppliers will be exempted from restrictions set by the local government units (LGUs) from point of origin to the destination area and vice versa.

Mr. Dar is set to discuss the protocols in a meeting with the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) set up by the Philippine government to contain COVID-19.

The DA is also arranging with LGUs the creation of new drop-off points where food deliveries can be easily accessed by the consuming public.

“These new drop-off points provide additional places where goods can be distributed and where the consuming public can buy,” Mr. Dar said.

Fishing activities in Manila Bay and fish deliveries in Metro Manila will remain unrestricted, the DA said.

The DA has instructed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to provide assistance to small fisherfolk, shippers, distributors, and fish traders to ensure continued movement of fish products at the six major ports in Metro Manila.

Movement of fish products from nearby provinces will also be monitored by fisheries bureau personnel to ensure consistent delivery to distribution centers and target destinations.

“There is no restriction in fishing activities while ports will continue normal operations to ensure smooth movement and unloading of fish products for Metro Manila residents,” Mr. Dar said.

Other regional DA offices have also been mobilized by the DA to help ensure adequate food supply in Metro Manila.

Recently, the DA said the rice supply is sufficient for 35 weeks or barely nine months, with 929,358 metric tons (MT) committed to Metro Manila.

Committed weekly supply for pork and poultry supply was 11,074 MT and vegetables and root crops 17,302 MT.

“Again, we assure Metro Manila residents that we have supplies of food and fish in volumes we earlier reported. We will continue our coordination with other government agencies for the most efficient movement of food from the provinces to Metro Manila,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave