Philippines: PGMA says country has enough food supplies

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Tagbilaran City (15 November) -- Food is nothing to worry despite the disasters that reportedly affected the country's food supply.

Both President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap agree that with more than two and a half months of food supply available, the country could rest its worries.

During Regional Media Interview with Bohol Chronicle Radio Broadcasting Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Dejaresco, President Arroyo, who has been called a brilliant economist by international papers agreed that she is comfortable with the country having 2-=BD months of food supply.

Many people have speculated that the flood-damaged farmlands in Luzon would create supply imbalance all over the country.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap however reported the current food supply situation and added that the supply inventory does not even include the Visayas and Mindanao harvests.

He also added that the country can't just look at the National Food Authority (NFA) when it comes to inventories of food supplies while pointing out to commercial suppliers who stockpile enough.

By showing a price-monitoring chart, Sec. Yap also clarified that even while the NFA is presently tendering its supplies, the country's market prices for rice in Luzon even lowered after the storms.

The Boholano by-affinity cabinet member also added that his agency is looking at recovering 150,000 hectares of storm-damaged ricelands as soon.

The government is preparing one bag of seeds and five bags of fertilizer to any farmer who has rehabilitated his farm, Yap claimed.

On how the country is faring in its disaster relief and rehabilitation programs, the President, with the help of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, reported the crucial role of food caravans sent to areas forecasted to be in the direction of the storms, making sure food is available there.

President Arroyo has also her hands on, leading the storm relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts while making sure government agencies track prices to discourage opportunistic businessmen from using the situation to manipulate prices of basic commodities.

According to Sec. Teodoro, about 10 million people were directly affected by the four storms, while about four million is in dire need of daily food and non-food requirements.

He however assured that the government is not resting, 24 hours a day seven days a week to make sure that help gets to where they are needed. (PIA)