THE MARCOS administration considers its effort of setting up more farm-to-consumer stores in the country as a means towards food security and addressing rising costs.
“This is our response to the food crisis and the increasing prices of goods,” President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said in Filipino at the launch of the so-called Kadiwa program in the central Philippine province of Cebu.
“We will continue this to ease the burden of our countrymen.”
He said the government will establish more stalls, especially in areas where residents struggle with the rising costs of food.
“We will continue to do this, increase and improve,” he said.
The Kadiwa program facilitates a farm-to-market supply chain, with pop-up shops selling agricultural products as well as other locally manufactured goods at relatively low prices since the state shoulders costs for transportation and other expenses.
Earlier this month, the Department of Agriculture announced a plan to install Kadiwa retail stores in select Metro Manila dry and wet markets within the first quarter.
Mr. Marcos said there are already more than 500 state-assisted stalls across the country.
Inflation hit a fresh 14-year high of 8.7% in January, accelerating from 8.1% in December as food prices soared amid supply issues.
Onion — a basic ingredient in Philippine dishes — was among the agricultural products whose price became unaffordable for many Filipinos.
The price of onion, which hit as much as P700 per kilo in December, has prompted the government to revise retail price suggestions for the food staple and launch a campaign against alleged smugglers.
National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said earlier this month that Philippine inflation may start to plateau starting March as food supply is expected to improve due to the start of harvest season and absence of typhoons so far this year.
Also on Monday, Mr. Marcos called for a multisectoral approach to accomplish his administration’s goal of building six million housing units until 2028 to address the country’s backlog.
He made the call as he led the inauguration of a 25-hectare housing project for residents of a coastal community in Cebu City.
“This will not be successful if our national government and local government don’t collaborate, work together, and join forces,” he said in a speech, adding that lawmakers as well as the private sector have important roles in the government’s housing program.
He said he is coordinating with Congress to ensure that the monthly amortization of the housing projects would be affordable, noting that the program is intended to help minimum wage earners, informal settlers, and other vulnerable sectors.
He also asked authorities to ensure that housing units are built to withstand extreme weather events and other natural calamities.
Last month, the president asked legislators to allot funding that would help people pay interest on government housing units.
Public housing is the only solution to informal settlements, Mr. Marcos told reporters on the sidelines of his trip to Cebu.
“There is really no other way to solve that problem.”
The President said his administration is evaluating a possible flexible and deferred payment system for housing beneficiaries. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza