President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) three-year Food Logistics Action Agenda aimed at revolutionizing the country’s food distribution system, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said.

President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. (Malacañang file photo)

According to the PCO, Marcos approved the plan during a sectoral meeting in Malacañang with secretaries from different government agencies on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

In a statement, the PCO said the creation of the three-year food logistics agenda was one of the directives of the President during the eighth Cabinet meeting in September 20222 to the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Trade and Industry (DTI), Transportation (DOTr), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to develop a food logistics chain, cold chain industry, ports infrastructure, and farm-to-market roads.

“The action plan’s general objective is to ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of food for Filipinos and that consumers reliably get the right product at the right time,” it said.

“It is committed to a whole-of-government approach where key agencies involved shall be required to prioritize, focus, and allocate funding on specific initiatives,” the statement added.

The three-year Food Logistics Action Agenda contains six key strategies to ensure success:

  • Revolutionizing the Philippines’ food distribution system
  • Reducing transport and logistics costs and increasing investments in logistics infrastructure on transportation and storage
  • Addressing other supply chain gaps

The plan also seeks to heighten enforcement against hoarding, smuggling, and overstaying food imports, monitoring warehouses or cold storage facilities, and using information and communications technology to improve logistics performance.

According to the PCO, the DTI has outlined efforts to integrate food terminals into the logistics framework by upgrading existing food terminals and building additional food hubs in Metro Manila and other areas in the country.

“By integrating food terminals, the supply chain from producers to consumers could be shortened, with standardized logistical processes and transportation systems directed towards specific destinations,” it said.

“These hubs operate as central command centers for effectively supervising the balance between demand and supply, with the resulting synergy within these hubs amplifying the effectiveness of the action plan,” it added.

During the meeting, Pascual said the DTI has a pilot project with Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal (NVAT) and the Unitedb States Agency for International Development-Strengthening Private Enterprises for the Digital Economy (USAID-SPEED) to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) transition to mature e-commerce businesses.

“This project will help pivot NVAT from offline to online transactions, thereby maximizing the potential of e-commerce and increasing market access for farmers’ produce,” Pascual explained.

The DTI is also endorsing logistics-related measures for inclusion in the priority legislative agenda, such as the International Maritime Competitiveness Act, which aims to empower the Maritime Industry Authority to regulate shipping lines and guard against excessive shipping charges.