Solon: COVID-19 threatens food security, carabao meat now sold in wet markets

SENATOR Win Gatchalian on Saturday raised the alarm as the COVID-19 crisis has not only affected the people but the country’s food security as well, given the real situation on the ground.

Gatchalian cited that some wet markets in the metropolis have now resorted to selling carabao meat due to beef shortage.

He added that traders and farmers have had difficulty transporting and delivering goods from Benguet and other provinces to Metro Manila who had to stop at several checkpoints before queuing at several trading posts to wait for buyers.

Eighty percent of the country’s highland vegetable requirements, such as carrot, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and lettuce, come from Benguet.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) has earlier warned of possible shortage in meat products by mid-April because quarantine restrictions impeded the delivery of raw materials to manufacturing plants.

Poultry farmers have also been finding it difficult to supply chicken to Metro Manila and some parts of Luzon due to roadblocks and personnel restrictions that have affected their deliveries and supply chains, which could trigger supply shortage in a months’ time.

This, despite orders from the national government to allow food deliveries through checkpoints.

The lawmaker said the national government should have guidelines for members of the Philippine National Police stationed at the checkpoints to follow.

These guidelines should be in coordination with the local government units (LGUs) so they can synchronize their acts together to ensure the unimpeded transport of food supply and other food raw materials.

He said authorities have to keep the country’s food supply chain alive while making sure that all of the pandemic’s impacts across the food system are being addressed.

Gatchalian expressed fears the delay in the movement of goods would force unscrupulous traders to hoard commodities and manipulate the price in the market, adding that there has already been an increase in the prices of some agricultural products in the past days.

“We should get our acts together. This is a classic example of lack of coordination between the national and local governments even with the local PNP. Iba sinasabi sa taas pero iba ginagawa sa baba”, said Gatchalian in disbelief.