Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday proposed the establishment of more Kadiwa stores to bring agricultural products closer to the people and subsequently lower food prices to more affordable levels.
Meanwhile, AGRI party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to pursue efficient budget spending to address the continuing increase in prices of agricultural, particularly onions.
“To effectively address the problem on the high price and shortage of agricultural products like onions, there should be enough support to farmers through the establishment of more Kadiwa Centers,” Gatchalian said.
Creating more farm-to-market retail centers such as Kadiwa stores, Gatchalian noted, will empower the farmers because the scheme will significantly improve their productivity, thus motivated to improve their farming efficiency.
“Ultimately, this would increase farm output levels which in turn would mean higher income for farmers and lower food prices for consumers,” he added.
“Valenzuela City was one of the beneficiaries of Kadiwa. The beauty of this is that the number or middleman will be reduced,” he said.
Gatchalian also said the Kadiwa should be government-sponsored, meaning the location, electricity and water and water consumption should be shouldered by the government.
Cooperatives, he added, will reduce retail prices because the middlemen will be eliminated.
To further empower the farmers and the fishermen, Gatchalian said the government should also grant subsidies such as the fuel discounts.
Starting in March last year, the agriculture department started implementing the subsidy program, provide ng P3,000-assistance to the farmer-beneficiaries.
The subsidy was meant to cushion the impact of the current global economic challenges and enable the agricultural sector to be more productive.
For his part, Lee noted that the Department of Agriculture (DA) received P174 billion for 2023—a 20.2 percent increase from its P144.8 billion budget last year.
“From this huge increase, we expect nothing less than improved services for farmers and fisher folk, and for the agency to finally address long-standing problems in the agriculture sector,” Lee said.
According to Lee, P16.89 billion was allotted this year for post-harvest facilities and services, which is 40.6 percent higher than the previous year’s allocation.
Last Dec. 28, 2022, it was reported that prices of red onions soared to P720 per kilo, which is seven times more expensive than the P100 per kilo in June of the same year as monitored by the DA.
Meanwhile, local white onions were sold as high as P600 per kilo.
The skyrocketing of prices is said to be attributed to low domestic production, which is a result of increasing production cost, lack of post-harvest facilities and rampant agricultural smuggling.
Earlier, Lee expressed full support to House ways and means committee chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda’s remarks that Congress, through an independent panel, will fight agricultural smugglers.