THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will be bringing more fresh vegetables, fruits and rice from provinces to Metro Manila to break the cartel controlling supply and prices and give consumers access to affordable food.
This was disclosed yesterday by DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol following the highly successful staging of the TienDA and Fishermen’s Outlet last Sept. 21 and 22 which brought vegetables and fruits from Mindanao to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) compound in San Andres, Manila.
Piñol said another two-day TienDa will be held on Sept. 28 and 29 at the BPI compound featuring vegetables, fruits, fish and rice at prices greatly lower than in the Metro Manila markets.
The staging of of TienDA, Piñol stressed, established that the high price of food in Metro Manila, mainly vegetables, was a result of manipulation by unscrupulous traders.
He further disclosed that by the first week of October, the DA will open Malasakit Stores in densely populated areas of Metro Manila.
“The stores will sell not only vegetables and fruits straight from the farms but also rice, sugar and other basic household food items,” Piñol said.
The DA will be handling the shipping and distribution of the commodities to be sold in Malasakit Stores. The stores will be operated by women’s groups supported by the local government units.
“The first Malasakit Store will be opened right in front of the DA Central Office in Quezon City in what is now the Agribusiness Center where rice and other farm products are now sold,” Piñol added.
He said that three to four outlets will be opened in Taguig by the first week of October in coordination with Mayor Lani Cayetano.
“From there, the Malasakit Stores will move to other densely populated areas of Metro Manila like BASECO in Manila and Payatas in QC,” he explained.
Piñol further disclosed that the participating LGUs are encouraged to use a passbook system so that only the residents of the locality will have access to the stores within their locality and prevent middlemen from buying and reselling the food items.
He added that housing subdivisions will also be convinced to establish their own Malasakit Stores where the role of the DA will just be as facilitator in the transport and delivery of the products.
“With the establishment of the Malasakit Stores in Metro Manila and other major population centers of the country later, it is expected that the stranglehold of traders and middlemen of the food supply chain in the country will finally loosen up. This will also teach profiteers and speculators a lesson that you cannot mess with government or challenge its capacity to set things straight,” Piñol stressed.