Press Release
April 19, 2021

DA dared: Save farmers' produce from low prices, lack of buyers and give them to community pantries

Amid reports of Luzon vegetable farmers dumping their produce, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto challenged the Department of Agriculture "to buy these, truck them to Manila and quietly give them to community pantries."

"May mga pictures na tinatapon na lang ang kamatis kasi walang bumibili. Bakit hindi na lang ito bilhin ng pamahalaan at ipamigay sa mga komunidad na nagtayo ng sarili nilang food banks?" Recto said.

Recto said "poor farmers are giving our bureaucrats with doctorates in their names a master class in bringing their produce to the cities."

"You don't have to be a genius to dispatch sweeper trucks and buy directly from vegetable farmers. You help both the farmers and the consumers," he said.

"And that's the least that an agency which spends money telling people not to waste a single grain of rice can do. Kung sinasabi na huwag mag-aksaya ng butil ng bigas, bakit tone-toneladang mga gulay ang nabubulok? O kung kayang mag-angkat ng baboy mula Brazil, bakit hindi kayang ibaba ang gulay mula Benguet?" Recto said.

"But what is happening now is that the food-producing poor are helping the food-consuming poor. If they can do it, why can't big-budgeted agencies do the same?" Recto said.

To boost their stock, community pantries could benefit from "government support" but it should be done "quietly and sans fanfare," he added.

"Some agencies have the mandate and the funds to do it. But they must have the finesse to not make epal. Food donations need not be trumpeted," Recto said.

"My suggestion is to give anonymously, because the best way to ruin a people's initiative is for government to brusquely come in. That will be a Midas touch in reverse," he said.

Recto said the DA's P150 million budget for Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita could be used to establish a "food rescue" distribution system where farmers' produce in danger of being spoiled for lack of buyers or low prices could be brought by the government to food banks in depressed areas.

He said the DSWD's 2021 budget of P176.6 billion can also be used for food donations.

Recto said funding for direct feeding of children is also a regular feature of the national budget, with P6 billion for DepEd and P3.8 billion for DSWD this year.

Recto said with self-rated hunger at record high of 30.7 percent, food banks have been the direct response of citizens to the growing number of GNP - Gutom na Pilipino.

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