MinDa mulls fielding rolling stores amid lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19 crisis

By Ali Macabalang

KIDAPAWAN CITY – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has mulled the fielding of rolling stores with the cooperation of local government units (LGUs) to serve households affected by limited access to markets amid lockdowns being imposed in the global fight against the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

MinDA Chairman Manny Piñol (MinDA / MANILA BULLETIN) MinDA Chairman Manny Piñol

MinDA Chairman Manny Piñol announced the concept on his Facebook page, and said that he had proposed to North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco the piloting of the “MinDA Rolling Tienda” program in her province.

He said he will have a Sunday breakfast meeting with Gov. Catamco and her provincial food security team to finalize the mechanics of launching in North Cotabato of the program meant to “ensure sustained supply of food for families confined in their homes because of the lockdown imposed by local government units.”

“If people cannot go to the market because of the COVID-19 lockdown and quarantine protocols, then let the market go to the people,” Piñol said, admitting that the program “is not an original or new idea.”

“I only patterned this after the enterprising provincial businessmen who use multi-cabs and tricycles with very loud sound systems to sell fish in the interior rural areas,” he said, citing also as template the Kadiwa program decades ago of the Marcos administration.

The upcoming venture is a mobile version of stationary “MinDA Tienda” outlets established in strategic areas of North Cotabato and Davao del Sur and North Cotabato to boost local resilience and do away with residents’ dependence to government dole-outs in the aftermath of a series of earthquakes last October and November.

“The MinDA Rolling Tienda is our answer now to the problem of delivering food supplies to rural communities whose access to the market is affected by the curfews, community quarantine and lockdown protocols,” Piñol said.

Under the pilot concept for North Cotabato, he said, each municipality in the province will be asked to submit data on number of households in each constituent barangay.

The data will be the basis for the number of foods and essential commodities-filled vehicles that the LGUs will have to deploy to localities, he added.

One vehicle will load the most basic necessities like rice in packs of two and five kilos, meat and dressed meat also in one-kilo packs, vegetables, salt, sugar and spices needed by the households, while another may procure and load banana and other fruits alongside vegetables, he said.

He said each of North Cotabato’s 17 towns and this city can put up a logistics center where goods will be packed for delivery to constituent villages pre-classified into zones.

This city, which has 40 barangays, may pilot the program for the 17 surrounding towns to follow, he said.

“To make the program sustainable, young out-of-school youths will be asked to handle the program to be initially funded by the provincial government of North Cotabato,” he said.

Other Mindanao provinces may replicate the program as part of their LGUs efforts for the Self-Sustaining Food Security Strategy (SSFSS) initiated by MinDA recently.

“I hold no patent to this idea and other local government units, including those outside of Mindanao, that may find the program applicable to their areas,” Piñol said.