AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar has requested a supplemental budget of at least P1 billion to support his department’s food resiliency and price control activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Executive Secretary Salvador S. Medialdea Saturday, Mr. Dar cited the need to support extraordinary operations to supply areas under lockdown.

”While the DA (Department of Agriculture) support systems are already in place to ensure food supply availability, we need additional funds to sustain their implementation, especially in areas where the enhanced community quarantine is strictly enforced,” Mr. Dar said.

The funding request includes P325 million for logistical support to the food supply chain; P250 million for urban agriculture in Metro Manila and other cities; P200 million for production support, including seed and inputs; P150 million for agriculture workers, including medical assistance packages, biosecurity measures, information and communication, and financial assistance; and P75 million for suggested retail price (SRP) enforcement and price freeze monitoring.

“The DA has a quick response fund as do all other agencies, but we want to proactively deal with the situation by ensuring the continuous production, processing, packaging and delivery of basic food commodities to major consumption centers, particularly Metro Manila,” Mr. Dar said.

The proposed P1-billion supplemental budget will let DA upscale its “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” project by establishing additional outlets in partnerships with local chief executives in Metro Manila.

Additionally, partnerships with the private sector will include setting up “Kadiwa” stores to cater to the basic food needs of their employees.

“We commit to make efficient use of the supplemental budget during this challenging time, as this grim episode is indeed a huge challenge for all of us,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave