The Philippines government has resurrected a project launched in 2018 to provide refrigerated container vans or reefer vans to fishermen and farmers in order to reduce their post-harvest losses.
On March 12, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi signed a tripartite agreement to strengthen and expand the implementation of the existing “Palamigan ng Bayan” program for the agri-fishery sector in strategic areas nationwide.
The “Palamigan ng Bayan” program was previously led by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in 2018.
Since then, the project was able to deploy a dozen reefer vans in selected sites that served as cold storage facilities for farmers and fishers to preserve the quality of perishable goods, reduce wastage and fetch reasonable prices.
This time the DOTr is partnering with the DA and DOE not only to strengthen the “Palamigan ng Bayan” program but also to expand and sustain it to cover more areas and thus benefit more farmers and fishers nationwide.
“Before we are the only one doing the program. Our progress was too slow that is why we partnered with DA and DOE,” Tugade said.
Tugade said this tripartite partnership will help address concerns on food shortage and high food prices.
To recall, the country’s inflation rate rose to 4.7 percent in February 2021, which is higher than the January 2021 inflation rate of 4.2 percent and the highest since the 4.4 percent recorded in January 2019. Such an increase was mainly due to the increase in food prices.
For his part, Dar said the program will be a big boost to the agriculture sector because it will help reduce farm and fishery post-harvest losses, which currently range from 15 to 30 percent.
Under their memorandum of agreement (MOA), the three agencies will promote the use of refrigerated container vans as cold storage facilities to store fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat products, and other perishable goods.
They also committed to ensure the steady and affordable supply of farm and fishery products in support of the DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant program, and food security agenda, provide technical and other support services to farmers and fisherfolk, and promote continuing technology innovation.
Under the MOA, the DA will identify priority areas where the reefer vans from DOTr will be established in partnership with qualified farmers’ and fishers’ groups.
The DOE, on the other hand, will provide assistance in ensuring the needed energy access for the efficient and uninterrupted operation of the reefer vans.