Manila Bulletin – DA Urges: Patronize Local Products

DA urges: Patronize Local Products

By MARVYN N. BENANING

Manila Bulletin

July 28, 2011, 4:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) Thursday urged all citizens to dump foreign items and patronize only farm and fisheries produced by Filipinos.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala issued the call after major supermarkets, hotels and restaurants promised to buy local agriculture and fishery products and substantially reduce their importations.

It also came in the wake of the call of the National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) for all Filipinos to think and act like the Japanese, who do not buy any foreign food product that competes with their own.

National Economic Protectionism Association said that patriotism is needed for the economy to survive, for food producers to earn and for the manufacturing industry to thrive.

An organic farmer himself, Alcala has been pushing for increased consumption of organic agricultural products and asked citizens to consume the more nutritious brown rice.

He noted that private sector support is needed to give local food producers a big boost since higher demand “would encourage Filipino farmers to produce more and earn higher incomes.”

The commitment, Alcala disclosed, was made during a meeting initiated by the DA on July 18.

Alcala expressed concern about the flood of imported farm products, particularly onions, in public markets and supermarkets.

The meeting was attended by officials and representatives of the Philippine Association of Supermarkets Inc. (PASI), Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association, Inc. (PAGASA), Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP), Rustan’s Supermarket and a farmers’ group, the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magsisibuyas ng Nueva Ecija (KASAMNE).

These groups promised to support Alcala’s thrust to promote, sell and use Filipino farm and fishery products.

Alcala said the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) will establish a central depot or distribution hub in which small supermarkets could buy their regular stocks of agri-fishery products, including onions.

Philippine Association of Supermarkets Inc. (PASI) told Alcala the group prefers to sell organic agricultural products.

Alcala asked the group to provide DA a list of organic products which the department will refer to interested suppliers, farmers’ groups and producers.

Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP) committed to provide the DA with the list of farm and fishery products and ingredients that hotels and restaurants require which farmers’ groups could supply on a regularly basis. Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magsisibuyas ng Nueva Ecija (KASAMNE) committed to ensure a sustainable supply of onions.

Its members will soon produce off-season yellow granex onions. These will be planted beginning August and could be harvested by October through November to meet the demand during the Christmas season.

Alcala said the DA will spearhead a program to revive the country’s garlic industry, which had been battered by the influx of cheap garlic from Taiwan and other countries. He added he is promoting the production of local peking duck to supply the requirements of Chinese restaurants.

In the same meeting, Alcala commended Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez for their successful seizure of 4,000 bags of imported red onions worth P3.5 million. The initiative was part of the Customs Oplan Sagip-Agri (COSA) project to confiscate previously “cleared” imported products and penalize erring importers.

Alcala asked the Bureau of Customs to implement Customs Oplan Sagip-Agri nationwide.

The July 18 meeting was facilitated by Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) director Leandro H. Gazmin and attended by officials of DA-attached agencies and Department of Trade and Industry.

 

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