The Department of Agriculture (DA) needs to re-strategize amid rising prices of major food items, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In his latest economic bulletin, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran, said the DA should look for alternative supplies of vegetables after the successive typhoons wreaked havoc on vegetable-producing areas in the final months of last year.
Beltran, who is the DOF’s chief economist, also suggested that the DA should implement a stronger program to end animal diseases, including African swine fever (ASF), which added undue pressure on food prices.
“The DA’s food programs may have to be re-strategized so that unaffected regions can supply alternative supplies of vegetables to typhoon-battered regions immediately after a typhoon. Likewise, a stronger program to stamp out ASF needs to be set up,” Beltran said.
Last December, the rate of increase in consumer prices clocked in at 3.5 percent, its fastest pace in more than a year and marked its fourth straight month of uptrend.
The uptick in December was mainly on account of major food items, in particular, vegetables and meat prices that rose 19.73 percent and 9.95 percent, respectively.
“Vegetable supplies were dented by the successive typhoons that swept the country during the last quarter. Meat was adversely affected by the African swine fever (ASF),” Beltran said.
Rice also reversed its negative growth trend, registering a slight price increase of 0.10 percent during the month.
Regions directly battered by typhoons such as Cagayan Valley and Bicol recorded the highest inflation rate of 6.6 percent.
The uptick in transportation services to 8.33 percent in December from 7.63 percent the prior month also contributed to the increase in inflation rate, the finance official said.
Likewise, international crude oil prices rose 10.9 percent to $48.76 per barrel in December from $43.95 in the previous month due to tighter supply arising from demand recovery.
The year-on-year decline in prices of utilities and fuels of minus 3.38 percent, nevertheless, helped temper the increase in general price level. In 2020, inflation rate averaged 2.6 percent, well within the monetary authority’s target range of 2.0 percent to 4.0 percent.