MANILA — President Marcos on Wednesday stated that the government is eyeing permanent locations for Kadiwa centers nationwide to help Filipinos cope with the rising prices of food and other commodities.
“We are thinking of evolving it – not this type of pop-ups, but to have permanent Kadiwa centers in different local government units. We are thinking about where to put it,” Marcos told journalists after leading the launch of the Kadiwa ng Pangulo para sa Manggagawa in Quezon City.
At present, Marcos, who also serves as secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said there are around 500 Kadiwa outlets across the country. He launched the program last Christmas.
The latest Kadiwa outlet at the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines office in Quezon City is part of the continuing expansion of Kadiwa centers nationwide to give Filipino farmers, fisherfolk and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) an opportunity to generate more income through direct farm-to-consumer trade, Marcos said.
He said the initiative was also part of his administration’s program to cushion and counter the effects of rising inflation.
“We are seeing a lot of news about rising prices of goods. Here in Kadiwa, we can have big savings because the prices are lower,” Marcos said in Filipino.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Tuesday said the expansion of the Kadiwa ng Pangulo outlets was part of the government’s interventions to mitigate the effects of inflation.
The country’s inflation rate dropped slightly from 8.7 percent in January to 8.6 percent in February.
“This means that it (inflation) has leveled up, maybe it will slide down, and that we forecast that maybe by around October, it will go down to four percent. The BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) is expecting two to four percent level,” Diokno said during a briefing at the Palace.
Marcos launched the “Kadiwa ng Pangulo” program in Cebu City last month to provide Filipinos with fresh and affordable agricultural and fishery products.
The Kadiwa program is a farm-to-consumer market chain. It allows local producers to generate higher income by selling their produce directly to consumers.
The initiative was first introduced during the term of Marcos’ late father, former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., to provide a market for local farmers and fishermen for their produce and small business enterprises selling basic necessities.
Marcos earlier said the revival of his father’s Kadiwa program was part of his strategies as agriculture chief to help ordinary people survive amid the rising prices of commodities.
Meanwhile, farmers’ group Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said the DA should look into the causes of high food prices, noting that farmgate prices remain immobile.
FFF national manager Raul Montemayor said traders might be causing the spike in the prices of agricultural products after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that food remains the main driver of inflation, contributing at least 10.8 percent.
“The DA should examine the farmgate price against the retail price as the farmgate price does not move, meaning the increase is coming from the middle,” Montemayor said.
The PSA has reported that the inflation rate slowed down to 8.6 percent in February, from 8.7 percent in January, although it noted at least 10.8 percent increase in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
“The DA should determine where the increase is coming from along the value chain as right now it’s harvest time,” Montemayor added.
He blamed the movement in the prices of petroleum products for the increase in the prices of agricultural products.?“High food prices are also being instigated by fuel,” he said.
Montemayor said the farmgate price of onions now ranged between P50 and P60 per kilo, but the bulb is still selling for as high as P150 a kilo.
“The issue is still the enforcement of the suggested retail price as the DA cannot really implement it,” Montemayor said, referring to a memorandum order issued by Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban imposing an SRP of P125 per kilo for red onions.
He said the retail price of rice also increased by P1 to P2 per kilo.
“There is an increase of P1 to P2 per kilo but at this time, the stocks of palay are no longer in the hands of farmers, the traders control the supply, although the harvest will start late March or early April,” he said, adding that traders are speculating on the prices of rice amid tight supply.
Montemayor said the high prices of palay also affect the efforts of the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy palay, as its buying price is only P19 per kilo.
“The NFA cannot boost its buffer stock for calamities as its stocks are also allocated for the Kadiwa and for the military,” he said.