Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On Rice Sufficiency

With "unprecedented amounts of investments" in agriculture and food
security programs, the country can become rice-sufficient in five
years, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said last night.

In her speech keynoting the 7th Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day
celebration at the Grand Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza
Hotel in Pasay City, the President said the new economics of global
food security makes it imperative for the country to control its own
destiny in terms of rice.

To meet this imperative, she said her administration is "working with
all levels of government in our country with multilateral agencies and
our other development partners, and with the private sector to achieve
rice self-sufficiency five years from now."

"Our longer-term efforts to promote rice self-sufficiency will also
ensure that we will no longer have to rely on expensive imports to
meet our country's needs for this important commodity," the President

She pointed out that investments the in intensified food production
program are aimed at strengthening the country's ability to provide
food for its citizens through a series of efficient and
budget-friendly food production modules, the key to achieving rice
sufficiency in five years.

The President unveiled this program called F.I.E.L.D.S.--an acronym
for Fertilizer, Irrigation and Infrastructure, Extension and
Education, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest and post-production
facilities, and Seeds and other genetic materials--during the Food
Summit held at the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles, Pampanga last April 4.

She described the six "assistance packages" as the "essential
ingredients for making food abundant, accessible and affordable."

On fertilizers, the President directed the Department of Agriculture
(DA) to set aside P500 million from the "ACEF (Agricultural
Competitiveness Enhancement Fund) for fertilizer support and
production especially organic fertilizers."

On irrigation and infrastructure, the President directed the National
Irrigation Administration (NIA) to "finish the rehabilitation of
irrigation systems by 2010."

She said that the government would be spending P6 billion a year to
irrigate farmlands and another P6 billion on infrastructure,
"especially farm-to-market roads, roll-on roll-off ferry ports to
bring the products from Mindanao to Luzon and no-frills airports for
agricultural cargo in the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle."

Saying that agricultural extension and education are a "weak link" in
the food production equation, the Chief Executive directed the DA and
the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to "continuously
implement programs and intervention in close cooperation with the LGUs
(local government units) and to implement research and development in
technology and engineering centered on agriculture."

The President stressed the need to "train more trainors and
technicians on new technology for dissemination to farmers" as she
welcomed the commitment of state universities and colleges to support
the training program.

She also announced the allocation of P2 billion for research and
development as part of her administration's new funding for the
training of farmers and fisherfolk on new and emerging technologies.

The President said that of the P20 billion available for lending to
farmers at any Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) branch, P15 billion
will be used for agricultural credit, and P5 billion for rice loans.

She added that farmers could also tap into the $30-million
foreign-assisted funding for post-harvest facilities.

This funding assistance, the President said, is under the Asian
Development Bank's (ADB) assistance program for rice-producing
provinces and municipalities.

To facilitate the processing of loan applications, the President said
that she is asking Congress to pass a law that will make farmlands as
acceptable collateral.

At present, banks offer low loan values to farmlands as collateral,
making it difficult for farmers to augment their profits.

On rice dryers, the President said she has instructed the DA to
"establish integrated processing and training centers (that will help
farmers efficiently dry out their products) in collaboration with the
private sector."

She added that the government has earmarked P2 billion for rice dryers
and post-harvest facilities.

The President also stressed the importance of supporting seed growers
whose success, she said, "would enable rain-fed lowland areas
presently planted with certified rice seeds to migrate to hybrid rice

She stressed the need to sustain the hybrid rice seeds program as this
would ensure steady harvest and supply for the country.
"We must sustain this program which will require P2 billion for hybrid
seeds and P6 billion for certified rice seeds for our harvest in 2009
and 2010," the President said.

Note: Rice is also grown in the USA.

1 comment:

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