In fulfillment of the Rodrigo Duterte administration’s promise of providing available and affordable food for Filipinos during his campaign, incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol announced that he is targeting an additional one million hectares for rice production.
In addition, the incoming Agriculture management will focus its efforts and resources in increasing productivity, while reducing production costs.
As such, DA will undertake a review of all programs that are non-essential to food production,” Piñol said stressing that he will continue the rice self-sufficiency target.
“I cannot tell you when it is going to happen but the next administration will exert all efforts and utilize all resources for the country to attain rice self sufficiency,” he said during the Transition Briefing held at the DA Central Office on June 8, 2016.
Outgoing Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, during his stint as DA chief, was able to increase production from 81% in 2010 to the current level of 97%.
“I was not able to achieve 100% rice-sufficiency level but it was a big increase,” Alcala said.
During Alcala’s term, he was also able to reverse the negative corn production to more than 100% sufficiency level.
For his part, Piñol said that he would not give a deadline on his rice-sufficiency target.
“It could be during President Duterte’s term or maybe the next, but we will lay the foundation of a sustained and well-planned agriculture to attain rice self-sufficiency,” he added.
The incoming Secretary announced that he already got a GO signal from President-elect Rodrigo Duterte about his plans, and have already informed the incoming Budget and Finance secretaries on an additional P30 billion budget request.
Piñol also announced a major shift in irrigation, stressing that his administration will focus on constructing smaller irrigation systems which can operate in 6-12 months time.
“We can even copy Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar’s experience, where they use small water pumps to irrigate five-hectare farms to increase the productivity of upland and rain-fed areas for rice production,” he said.
Piñol is a practicing farmer, born to a farm family.“I know how to plow the field using a carabao, how to plant rice, I breed chicken and goats, and most of all in all the years I’ve been a local government official, I’ve been aware of the dreams and aspirations of the Filipino farmer,” he saidl. (AFID)