Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

Agri chief, governors of top rice-producing provinces meet to push grain output

Author: DA-AFID | 20 November 2023

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. on Friday, November 17, met with the governors of the top 10 rice-producing provinces in the country to help increase grain supply, reduce imports, and lower prices of the national food staple.

Governors from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao who gathered in San Juan City welcomed Secretary Laurel’s initiative, saying the consultative meeting was a good first step towards a concerted effort to boost rice production.

Secretary Laurel has pledged to meet groups involved in agriculture as part of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s vision of modernizing agriculture to ensure the country is food secure, farm products are reasonably priced, and farmers and fishermen are lifted out of poverty. The 10 provinces account for 48 percent of the country’s total rice production.

“I really appreciate Secretary Kiko’s effort to touch base with stakeholders,” said Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, whose province is the biggest producer of rice, accounting for 9 percent of national production.

“This is the first time that local government units are being given the opportunity to address the concerns of their respective provinces. I believe that this kind of leadership he is starting will benefit not only my province but also the country’s food security,” he added.

Isabela Governor Rodolfo Albano III said the meeting would foster cooperation among various stakeholders in rice production.

“Maganda ang resulta. Kasi iyan ang unang-una — dapat, makipag-usap si Secretary sa mga stakeholders na tulad namin. Maganda yung ginagawa niya, tulungan. Kung may mga makakatulong sa kanya, magagawa natin ang mga programa, maaayos natin lahat,” said Albano. (The meeting turned out well. Because that should be the first priority, for the Secretary to sit down with stakeholders. The cooperation he is engendering is welcome. With those who can help him, we will be able to implement the programs. We will be able to put things in order.)”

Maguindanao del Sur Governor Bai Mariam Mangudadatu said she looks forward to the mechanization farm process that should help increase rice yields in her province.

“It’s a very good start for the secretary na nakausap niya yung governors ng top ten rice-producing provinces. Kasi this is the first time na nangyari ‘to since I became a governor for two terms. At the same time, maganda din na nabanggit ang PhilMech dahil in the history ng Maguindanao wala pa, hindi pa umabot sa amin ang PhilMech,” said Mangudadatu.

PhilMech refers to the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, the DA unit that produces farm equipment locally.

The Rice Tariffication Law sets aside billions of pesos from rice import duties to support PhilMech’s initiative. A PhilMech representative was present during the meeting. The other governors expressed appreciation after being consulted by the agriculture secretary.

Pangasinan Governor Ramon Guico III said local officials could help bridge the gap between the DA and their constituents.

“Maganda ito kasi direct ang LGU link to the farmers. Alam namin ang sitwasyon doon. Narinig first-hand ni Secretary yung pangangailangan,” he said.

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said local knowledge is crucial so that solutions to agricultural problems are tailored to the peculiarities of the regions.

“Ang ganda because we are being consulted and I think our inputs will be very, very crucial in the decision-making; it is crucial that we collaborate. This is something good for our people, especially the LGUs. I think yung input namin is very helpful,” he said.

Bukidnon Governor Rogelio Neil Roque said his provincial agriculture team will submit to Secretary Laurel their priorities, which will have a huge impact on the province.

The other provincial chief executives who met with Secretary Laurel were Tarlac Governor Susan Yap and Camarines Sur Governor Luigi Villafuerte, while North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Talino Mendoza sent her representatives.

Iloilo is the other top rice producer in the country.

Agriculture Undersecretaries DV Savellano and Roger Navarrro, the officer in charge of operations, as well as Ramon Lim of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), were also present in the meeting.

Sec. Laurel was also pleased with the outcome of the meeting.

“Everybody has the same idea…Nagkaroon ng konting deliberation lang. Ang bilis nga,” he said.

Participants in the meeting agreed to coordinate efforts to bring rice prices down by increasing production. They also agreed to meet regularly. ###

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