Marcos pushes for yield hike as DA hastens assessment of programs

By Azer Parrocha and Stephanie Sevillano

July 18, 2022, 8:33 pm

<p>President Ferdinand "Bongbong” Marcos Jr. <em>(File photo)</em></p>

President Ferdinand "Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday discussed ways to increase local food production in the country in a closed-door meeting with the executives of the Department of Agriculture (DA) at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management Convention Hall in Quezon City on Monday.

In a media interview, DA Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista said the executive meeting with Marcos, who concurrently heads the DA, includes “broad strokes” on programs that will benefit farmers’ yield and price affordability for consumers.

“Right now, there's a very thorough assessment of the programs DA already have because we have to see which one of them actually worked, which one has to be tweaked, and which one needs further consultation with the stakeholders. So, that’s the directive of our beloved President, so he could come up with programs again based on the thrust of increasing production and making agricultural commodities affordable,” she said.

Evangelista said they haven’t gone to budget specifics yet, although the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was present to take note of their significant considerations.

“The nitty gritty and the details of the budget were not discussed… It was basically broad strokes of the program and the direction on how many consumers or farmers we intend to help with this kind of program,” she said.

She also said it has been made clear that rice importation will only be supplementary, as Marcos intends to boost local rice production.

“Based on our outlook, this is even submitted before, our local production is higher, our importation will always be for augmentation and for buffer stock in the commissary. If we will increase our yield in the North, then even the buffer stock will come from local production,” she added.

The DA assessment, she said, is not only limited to rice production but to all other agricultural commodities, which are now on a market price hike.

“We are not concentrating on a single commodity because if we're talking about food security, that does not involve only rice. It will involve even the livestock, the chicken, pork, eggs, and also vegetables, so we have a lot to look into... It's really a matter of what is acceptable to our stakeholders to ensure that whether this is aimed at increasing their production or putting down their cost of production,” she said.

In an earlier interview with the Philippine News Agency, Evangelista mentioned their comprehensive assessment for programs will help them identify what needed to be modified in the entire value chain to benefit both farmers, fishers, all the way to consumers.

In a separate Facebook post, Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) said other points of discussion include the operational plan and farm-to-market road (FMR) network plan, as well as a more efficient system of food mobilization across the country by capacitating the cooperatives and bringing in the Food Terminal Incorporated (FTI) to support the distribution of agricultural products especially to the vulnerable sectors of the community.

“All these are geared towards accelerating the implementation of programs, activities and projects (PAPs) for rice, corn, fisheries, vegetable, livestock and poultry production,” RTVM said.

Marcos also instructed the DA to anchor the existing PAPs with the present situation of the agricultural sector.

“The possibility of government-to-government (G2G) negotiations is also highlighted during the meeting with the intent to decrease expenditures in subsidizing raw products — such as fertilizers — and maximize government fund in addressing other concerns of local farmers,” it added.

In previous speeches, Marcos said agriculture is one of his priority sectors as he seeks to strengthen the country’s food supply chain.

Marcos also shared photos taken during the DA meeting in his social media accounts.

“Prayoridad sa ating plano para sa agrikultura ay ang pagpapatibay ng programang farm-to-market road at pagsusulong ng mga proyektong makakatulong sa ating mga kababayan sa sektor ng agrikultura (A priority in our plan for agriculture is the adoption of the farm-to-market road program and the promotion of projects that will help our countrymen in the agricultural sector),” he said in his post.

He vowed to ensure that there would be “sufficient and affordable” food for all Filipinos. (PNA)