THE government task force dealing with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak will seek to ensure the unhampered movement of goods while providing farmers with equipment to help ensure food security.

In a statement Thursday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will prioritize reducing hunger and safeguarding the food supply during the crisis.

He said the IATF-EID will focus on the following: “(1) ensure unhampered movement of agriculture and food goods and services through efficient transport and logistics systems; (2) intensify provision of support services and farm machinery and equipment; (3) strengthen online marketing of agricultural produce; (4) ensure safety of food and agricultural products supplied in the market; and (5) intensify research and development for agriculture.”

The IATF-EID said the launch of the Supply Chain Analytics (SCAN) IATF Reporter Mobile App will also help ease supply chain issues. Mr. Nograles said: “The information contained in the SCAN Dashboard will be vital to the government and the private sector in addressing the issues that hamper the flow of goods and inputs for production.”

The system was first proposed by the National Economic and Development Authority and was launched last month.

Due to the pandemic, hunger rates in the Philippines have worsened. He cited a study by the Social Weather Stations in May which found that 16.7% of Filipinos experienced involuntary hunger that month, roughly double the 8.8% in December 2019.

As head of the Task Force on Zero Hunger, Mr. Nograles said there is “a lot of work to do” in food security and food accessibility. — Gillian M. Cortez