THE government is allocating P31 billion for measures that would ensure there is enough food supply during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said it has approved a P31-billion supplemental budget for the Agriculture department’s national “Plant, Plant, Plant Program.”

The supplemental budget will now only require President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s approval, as part of the special authority granted to him under Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“It is part of his special powers based on the new law — to realign the budget,” DA Spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Noel O. Reyes said in a mobile message.

The DA’s program, also known as Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra sa COVID-19, is also geared towards making basic agricultural commodities more accessible and affordable, amid the ongoing spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“In all, we have enough food for the next two months. We are enhancing needed measures to ensure food security and strong cooperation with all sectors, most particularly with all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and barangay leaders in ensuring the unhampered transport of agricultural products and farm and fishery inputs, including movement of farmers, fishers, and workers in the food value chain,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar was quoted as saying in the statement.

The biggest slice of the supplemental budget will go to the DA’s Rice Resiliency Project at P7.5 billion.

Another P7 billion will be allotted for the palay procurement fund of the National Food Authority (NFA), while P3 billion each or a total of P9 billion will go to providing financial assistance for farmers affected by the drop in farmgate prices; expanded agriculture insurance coverage; and social amelioration to farmers, fishers, and farm workers.

The Agriculture department will also allocate P1 billion each for six projects, including the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program livestock and corn resiliency program; and coconut-based diversification project. Other projects include the “expanded small ruminants and poultry project: fisheries resiliency program; and revitalized gulayan” project.

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

Moreover, P500 million will be allocated for protective personal equipment (PPE) like surgical masks for the DA, while another P500 million will go to the urban agriculture project.

A corn-for-food project will get P300 million, while P200 million will be allocated for the DA’s information, education, and communication project. — RMDO