Alcala to next administration: Aim for rice self-sufficiency

The next administration should continue to implement measures to achieve self-sufficiency in rice and other staples, the outgoing chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said incoming DA chief Emmanuel F. Piñol should consider adopting the Aquino administration’s Food Staples  Sufficiency Program (FSSP).

“They must pursue the Food Staplea Sufficiency Program that we have launched. We need just to do a little bit more to hit its goals,” Alcala told reporters on the sidelines of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management 65th anniversary celebration.

He said the Philippines has already achieved 97-percent rice self-sufficiency. Alcala also noted that the country’s paddy rice output in recent years has not gone below 18 million metric tons (MMT).

“That means we have done something right to make sure our foundation is good. Since we’re only a little bit lacking, [the next administration] can hit the 100-percent [self-sufficiency goal] and maybe more,” Alcala added.

He said the next administration should target a self-sufficiency rate of more than 100 percent to ensure that the country would have enough buffer stock in times of emergencies.

Given the increase in the production of the country’s staples, Alcala said the national rice and corn programs under the current administration have been “successful.”

“Another program [I want them to adopt] is the seed buffer stock program.

At any given time, each province should be ready to distribute replacement seeds,” he said.

Under the program, about 10 percent of the total seed requirements of every province should be buffered in preparation for natural calamities.

“We need additional areas for irrigation. Along with this, we should develop more land for agriculture,” he said, when asked what the current administration could have done to further improve the agriculture sector.

Alcala noted that in areas where irrigation is available, the lands were not suitable for planting paddy rice.

“You could irrigate an area, and yet, the farmers cannot make the most of your irrigated areas since there is no paddy development,” he said.

“We have areas in the sector which we have tried to fix, but some actions also misfired. I will also share with Piñol these [errors],” Alcala added.

He said these suggestions and observations are included in the DA’s report to the transition team of Piñol.

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