THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has requested a P32 billion supplemental budget to ensure food security for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The program is known as Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat Kontra sa COVID-19 (ALPAS COVID-19).

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said that the program will offer support for farmers and other components of the food value chain.

“With this pandemic, there is tightening of global food supply and we know that when there is not enough food, disorder is probable. While improving our food adequacy level, we should aim for food security. If no action is done, the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of the virus,” Mr. Dar said.

A total of P8.5 billion will be allocated to the Rice Resiliency Project.

Its components include P2 billion for fertilizer; P3 billion in support for advance planting in areas not covered by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund in the form of seed, fertilizer, mechanization and credit; and P3.5 billion to expand rice growing areas with good irrigation.

Some P7 billion will go to the National Food Authority to increase procurement of palay, or unmilled rice.

“We need to improve efficiencies in production and enhance projects and activities to ensure affordability and availability of food supply,” Mr. Dar said.

He reiterated that the DA will ensure the supply of food from production to consumption for locked-down communities. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave