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Dar to ‘strongly suggest’ full opening of agriculture sector amid pandemic

/ 09:58 AM April 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar will “strongly suggest” to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, the “full opening” of the agriculture sector—while following social distancing and health protocols—to ensure enough food supply during the coronavirus crisis.

Dar said he will make the recommendation to the task force on Thursday.

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“Ang ire-recommend ko dito sa IATF ay yung full opening—meaning maximum operations—following physical distancing and using of face mask, ‘yung sector ng agrikultura ng pangingisda,” Dar told INQUIRER.net over the phone.

(I will recommend to the IATF the full opening—meaning maximum operations—of the agriculture and fisheries sectors while following physical distancing and using of face mask.)

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The agriculture secretary said he will articulate the need to fully open operations in the agriculture sector.

“Mahirap yung nagbabaka-sakali tayo. We really have to open so that food production continues. Alam ninyo, kung ma-distort ang food production, mas may problema (If food production is distorted, we will have bigger problems),” Dar said.

“I will fully articulate the need for a full opening but guided by health measures, quarantine measures,” he added.

Dar said that members of the IATF have been supportive of concerns related to the agriculture sector.

“I hope they will consider full opening sa agriculture and fishery. When I say full, it’s the whole value chain sa agriculture and fishery. ‘Yun ang recommendation ko mamaya (That will be my recommendation later),” Dar said.

As a part of the government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus, Dar on Wednesday announced that food vehicles are not allowed to carry more than three people. This means that a food vehicle must only carry one driver and two helpers.

While the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) supported the move, it called for exceptions to the travel ban this harvest season. Sinag is the biggest umbrella organization of agricultural groups in the country.

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TAGS: Agriculture, Coronavirus, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, William Dar
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