Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

On PBBM order, DA to urgently modernize agriculture, ensure food security

Author: DA-AFID | 29 November 2023

The Department of Agriculture is stepping up efforts to mechanize farming, build more agricultural infrastructure and adopt latest technologies to improve rice production, increase farm yield and grain supply, minimize imports, and lower prices of the national food staple.

In a speech read by Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. at Ugnay Palay: The 35th National Rice R4D Conference in Nueva Ecija on Wednesday (Nov 29), President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. said government is adopting a science-based approach to rice farming to increase yield and establish “a sustainable rice value chain.”

“I am optimistic that all concerned government agencies, partners, and stakeholders will continue to explore ways to enhance existing agricultural technologies to improve and strengthen the rice industry, in line with our goal of a food-secure nation,” he said.

“Rest assured that the government shall continue to give primacy to research and development to ensure a sustainable rice value chain,” said President Marcos.

“We will also continue to support the initiatives undertaken by the PhilRice in introducing modern agricultural biotechnology to improve rice production,” he added.

The push for agricultural modernization will also focus on equally important sectors like livestock, poultry, fisheries and high value crops to ensure that affordable food items are readily available and accessible to Filipino consumers, the president said.

He also assured that law enforcement agencies are ready to go after smugglers, hoarders and price manipulators of farm products to protect both consumers and farmers.

For his part, Secretary Laurel told Ugnay Palay participants that government “is moving, with a sense of urgency” to widen irrigation coverage, set up more drying facilities and other infrastructures needed to boost rice yield.

“Ultimately, our aim is to minimize rice importation to achieve food security and sufficiency,” he said.

With improved rice harvest so far this year, the country has imported around 2.8 million tons, one million tons less than the volume of grains bought from abroad last year.

Minimizing import of rice and other agricultural products, Laurel said, should also help improve the income of farmers and fisherfolk, create more jobs in a sector that already provides employment to one in every four Filipinos, and reverse the shrinking trend of agriculture’s contribution to economic growth.

Many of the 10 million farmers and fisherfolk are considered poor. Around 2.4 million are involved in rice farming, and many of them are already approaching their senior years.

“We hope to attract a new generation of farmers, researchers, and innovators who will ensure the country’s food security in the years to come,” said Laurel. “Together, let us fulfill our shared dream of a strong, prosperous, and food secure Philippines,” he concluded.  ###

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