Press Release
January 15, 2019

Koko to govt agencies: 'use our kokotes,' buy and use excess veggie supply to aid social programs

Reacting to news reports that there was an oversupply resulting in falling prices of vegetables in Benguet and other areas in the Cordilleras, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III proposed a "creative solution to this welcome dilemma" through the Department of Agriculture's (DA) purchase of the excess harvest and distributing them to the DepEd, DSWD, and other agencies to supplement feeding and assistance programs.

"It's actually good news that we have extra food supply at low prices in the market. Let's make more good news by distributing these vegetables to schools, families and other beneficiaries that need food," the lawmaker noted.

Pimentel suggested that the DA take the lead in purchasing the vegetables, then coordinate transport and distribution with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to reach schools, barangays, orphanages, homes for the elderly, and needy areas upon proper coordination with DepEd and DSWD.

"Those of us in government should use our kokotes. I'm sure the DA and other agencies have the funds, personnel, and capacity to make this happen. Buy the vegetables cheap, help sellers and merchants dispose of their excess supplies so that nothing goes to waste, then boost government social programs. This can be a win-win situation for all."

The Mindanao-born legislator noted that during the last quarter of 2018 the DA was able to address vegetable shortages in Metro Manila by facilitating the transfer and purchase of excess supplies from Mindanao.

Pimentel said the Agriculture Department even extended a multi-million peso loan to the local farmers association in Bukidnon due to the skid in harvest prices.

"We need imaginative minds with imaginative solutions to pressing social problems. There should also be more inter-agency cooperation. The DA has done something similar before, and it should take the lead in assisting other executive departments in worthwhile projects that have direct benefit to people."

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