Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

Philippines needs minimum P1.3T to boost farm output, reduce wastage

Author: DA-AFID | 18 January 2024

The Philippines needs to invest at least P1.3 trillion over the next few years to boost rice production, reduce wastage of agricultural products, and ensure the country’s food security, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. said Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists in Malacanang after presenting his 3-year plan for agriculture to Cabinet members, Secretary Tiu Laurel said to irrigate 1.2 million of farm lands planted mainly to rice would require P1.2 trillion in capital spending.

“No major post-harvest facility was funded by government in the last 40 years. Puro maliliit, patingitingi which is actually irrelevant, useless. Sayang,” the agriculture secretary lamented. “We need really to fund these projects. But we must build bigger. We have three designs—small, medium and large, not mini,” he stressed. 

Building integrated rice mill and warehouse complexes — to reduce an estimated 15 percent in losses in rice due to the lack of post-harvest facilities — will cost around P90 billion over several years.

But that will save around P10.7 billion worth of rice or an additional 23 days of rice inventory, which is equivalent to around 10 percent of rice imports based on last year’s figures, Secretary Tiu Laurel said.

The agriculture chief said that this year alone, P1 billion was allocated to build four cold storage facilities, primarily at the Food Terminal Inc. Complex in Taguig City, to partly address the recurrent oversupply and wastage of vegetables in parts of Luzon alone. 

Transporting vegetables from Benguet to Metro Manila, according to traders, result in 30 percent losses that are eventually passed on to consumers. 

“If we try to solve the problem as soon as possible, assuming a target of 2025, I need an additional P5 billion to address the vegetable cold-storage issue of the whole nation,” he said.

The 5,000-pallet position cold storage facility in FTI will take at least 12 months to complete.

He noted, however, that the main government agency that should address the oversupply of vegetable and high value crops are the local government units because many agricultural functions have been devolved. He said the DA will assist, nonetheless, in resolving these perennial problems. 

Replying to the oft-repeated question on lower rice price down to P20 a kilo, Secretary Tiu Laurel said the price remains an “aspirational target” that will take several years to achieve given the latest El Niño cycle that has jacked up global rice prices.

He noted that in Vietnam, the main source of Philippine rice imports, rice sells for around P34 a kilo due to high demand given importing nations’ stockpiling. ### (photo from Bongbong Marcos FB page)

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