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According to experts, there are many inflationary pressures, but there are also answers.

Agricultural economists and food producers applauded the 6.6 percent inflation rate reported by the nation in April, but they warned that an approaching El Nio may renew pricing pressures upward.

Danilo Fausto, president of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI), said in an interview on Saturday that a plentiful harvest during the previous harvest season was to blame for the tempered inflation.

He claimed that several important food commodities had been harvested well.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas report, which noted that an improvement in the local supply of vegetables, fish, and meat last month alleviated pricing pressures, corroborated Fausto’s observations.

But according to the president of PCAFI, there is no guarantee that inflation would remain low throughout the year’s second half.

“The issue is that we anticipate an El Nio later this year. Based on our prior experience, food production may decrease by as much as 30% if that occurs.

Fausto urged the National Food Authority (NFA), the Department of Agriculture, and other concerned government organizations to accumulate a buffer stock of crucial food commodities to mitigate future supply and price issues.

He claimed that the NFA’s current stock of rice, which he referred to as almost nonexistent, is only sufficient for three days.

Fausto emphasized that now is the time to start stocking up on important food items rather than waiting for the dry spell, when government agencies may once again be forced to rush importation at unfavorable prices. “They (NFA) should try to build up a buffer stock equivalent to at least 100 days of the country’s consumption,” he said.

Aside from a projected dry season, Roberto Galang, dean of the John Gokongwei School of Management at Ateneo de Manila, said local food producers must also deal with a comeback of avian flu and African flu swine fever.

According to him, cattle diseases seriously threaten food production, resulting in issues with the fresh food supply and, consequently, rising food prices.

However, according to Galang, an expert in agricultural logistics, the sheer amount of food wasted in transport or insufficient storage facilities poses a constant danger to the domestic food supply.

According to the dean, appropriate organizations must promote a more effective method of moving agricultural products from the farm to the market by building better storage facilities, getting rid of pointless middlemen, and establishing tighter linkages between the farmer and the grocery store or retail industry.

“We will be better prepared to meet supply shortages caused by climate changes or animal diseases, and this will mitigate inflation if much less food is wasted on the way to the market and if we have more facilities for long-term storage,” Galang added.

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