MANILA – In what could be one of his most comprehensive platforms of governance yet, presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said he would work for an elaborate and all-encompassing food production program for the country to attain what he described as food sovereignty if he wins the May 9 elections.
In a recent radio interview, Marcos said he and his running mate Sara “Inday” Duterte are crafting an agricultural blueprint that would ensure every Filipino family would have food on the table when dining time comes.
He said the government’s program on addressing poverty and hunger should shift from what he termed as being “import-centric in which we rely heavily on importation of food products to feed the people, to production-centric in which our food requirements will be free from the dictates of market forces.”
“Kapag mapalakas natin ang ating agricultural sector, magkakaroon tayo ng food sufficiency at food security. At kapag sapat na ang food production natin at tayo na ang nagdidikta kung kailangan ba tayong mag-export ng ating produktong pagkain, masasabi natin na nakamtan na rin natin ang food sovereignty (Once we strengthen our agricultural sector, we will have food sufficiency and food security. And once we have enough food production and we are the ones who dictate whether we need to export our food products, we can say that we have also achieved food sovereignty),” he said.
He elaborated that it is important for the country to go beyond the so-called food security and food sufficiency which the current and previous leaderships had been trying to attain.
“Ang food sovereignty para sa amin ni Inday Sara ay iyong kalagayan ng ating bansa kung saan ang bawat Pilipino ay hindi na magugutom dahil may sapat na silang pagkain sa hapag-kainan (Food sovereignty for us Inday Sara is when every Filipino will no longer go hungry because they have enough food on the table),” he said.
He said it is important the food the put on their table “comes directly from the harvest of our own land.”
Marcos said it is only through food sovereignty when people can determine their own destiny as far as their food supply and requirements are concerned, and that the country’s needs will be not subjected anymore to market forces.
“We must create a system that would allow Filipinos to reclaim power in the food supply chain. We are basically an agricultural country, so we have the resources and the land and the people to attain that food sovereignty,” he said.
“Kailangan lang talaga ang masusi at maayos na programa kasabay ng todong suporta ng pamahalaan sa ating mga magsasaka, livestock raisers at mga mangingisda (We really need a thorough and orderly program along with the full support of the government to our farmers, livestock raisers and fishermen),” he added.
Marcos recalled that one of the lessons learned from the Covid19 pandemic is that the country’s food production is insufficient because the development of the agricultural sector has been shelved for the past decades, that it could no longer keep up with the demand of the growing population.
“When we could not import food, we did not have enough supply. The reason why we did not have enough supply is that our production was insufficient,” he said.
He noted that the agricultural sector should be able to provide a secure and strategic food supply to the country for the economy to thrive and for the country to move on to an industrialized state.
“We cannot expect our economy to thrive unless the agricultural sector is able to provide a secure and strategic food supply to our country. Kung may mangyari man, magka-pandemya ulit, sapat na ‘yung pagkain dito, hindi tayo umaasa sa (If pandemic happens again, we enough food here, not relying on) importation, which as the pandemic showed is really precarious for us,” he said.
Marcos added that the system should be retooled, improved and enhanced, with the government allotting necessary funds to revitalize research and development and to determine the best varieties and the best techniques that could work best for the different regions of the country.
He said the government should also aid farmers by providing production loans, inputs, technical support, techno demos, and post-harvest facilities, among others.
“If there is public investment into agriculture, that will create many jobs, kasi ‘pag sinasabing agriculture nasa isip natin nagtatanim lang, o nag-aalaga ng hayop, o nangigisda, o may fish pond or whatever, pero hindi lang ‘yan eh (because when we say agriculture, in our minds we just plant, or take care of animals, or fish, or have a fish pond or whatever, but that’s not all),” he said. (PR)