THE Department of Agriculture (DA) urged local government units (LGUs) putting together food packs for their more vulnerable citizens to source food from local farmers to stabilize the market for fresh produce during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said that aside from distributing canned goods and processed products, LGUs must also prioritize fresh produce in their purchasing for food packs.

“This is the time to help our farmers sell their produce while we promote healthy consumption in Filipino households. The food supplies can actually come from the ‘kanayunan’ (within the LGU itself), hence minimizing movement from one location to another,” Mr. Dar said.

DA and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are working on a food delivery system especially to locked-down communities.

LGUs have begun distributing food packs to poor constituents and to those who cannot go outside their houses due to movement restrictions. The quarantine has also resulted in the establishment of checkpoints around Metro Manila, potentially slowing the flow of food supplies and cutting farmers off from a major market, though the DA has been arranging for the use of special food lanes for accredited haulers of food cargoes.

“We are ready to assist our LGUs in metro areas to ensure stable food supply throughout the country. As much as possible, let’s do it within our communities where supplies are already available,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave