DA urged to ‘restrategize’ food programs

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Given the vulnerability of food prices to shocks in the aftermath of weather disturbances, the Department of Finance (DOF) on Wednesday urged the sourcing of goods from as many suppliers as possible.

In particular, chief economist and Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said the Department of Agriculture’s food programs should be “restrategized” so that unaffected regions could supply vegetables to typhoon-battered areas immediately after a typhoon.

In an economic bulletin, Beltran noted that vegetable prices soared 19.73 percent year-on-year in December last year, pushing headline inflation to a 22-month high of 3.5 percent.

“Vegetable supplies were dented by the successive typhoons that swept the country during the last quarter,” Beltran said.

Meat prices also jumped 9.95 percent year-on-year last month, no thanks to the African swine fever scare which limited pork supply, Beltran added.

For Beltran, “a stronger program to stamp out African swine fever needs to be set up” by the Department of Agriculture.

In the case of rice, Beltran noted that the Filipino staple food posted inflation of 0.1 percent year-on-year in December, reversing the deflation recorded since the rice tariffication law took effect last year to liberalize importation and keep domestic prices low.

The impact of bad weather’s impact on prices were also evident in the faster regional inflation rates registered in the Bicol and Cagayan Valley regions, which suffered the most from a string of strong typhoons from October to December last year.


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