THREE CARGO FIRMS have agreed to transport by air various high-value crops from Mindanao to Luzon and the Visayas, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

The DA signed a memorandum of agreement for the delivery of 15 tons of fruits daily at a cargo rate of P35 per kilogram, to be flown out of Davao to Manila until Oct. 1.

Under the memorandum, the DA also said there will be no off-loading, as long as the products will reach the airport before the cut-off time.

The DA said it hopes to aid farmers in finding new markets after setbacks to the region’s economy, including tourism, due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The first batch of high-value crops cargo from Davao arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sept. 1, as arranged by the Durian Industry Association of Davao City and John Gold Cargo Forwarder.

DA Undersecretary for Regulations Zamzamin L. Ampatuan said the arrangement is for cargo-only flights, unlike previous deals where the goods were carried in passenger flights.

“That’s why we are excited about this because it is an opportunity that will benefit the farmers, producers, and traders. We can serve the market and widen the opportunity for farmers to sell their produce at lower cargo cost,” Mr. Ampatuan said.

Undersecretary for High Value Crops and Rural Credit Evelyn G. Laviña hopes the delivery of the first shipment encourages more producers, consolidators, and shippers to use air cargo.

“There will be more like this not only on domestic flights, but eventually international as well,” Ms. Laviña said.

In June, the Department of Transportation ordered domestic shipping companies to allocate at least 12% of their vessel’s cargo space to agricultural products, and extend at least 40% discounts on shipping fees, to ease food logistics during the pandemic. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave