PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday ordered agriculture officials to be all hands on deck in addressing the impending food crisis that will impact the country’s food supply and prices.
The first marching order of Marcos, the concurrent agriculture chief, to the Department of Agriculture (DA) is to ensure the country’s food supply for the rest of the year, especially for rice, corn and even pork and chicken meat.
“We have to attend to the impending food crisis that it seems will be visiting us in the next two quarters. When we look around the world, everyone is preparing for it,” Marcos told the remaining high-ranking agriculture officials at an executive committee meeting on Tuesday at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management.
“We are already in a disadvantageous position in terms of food supply. We should really pay very close attention to what we can do. I think the conclusion we have come to here is that we have to increase production,” Marcos added.
However, Marcos reminded the agriculture officials that on top of making food supply sufficient is ensuring that they would be affordable to the Filipino consumers.
“We have to think very hard about making sure that people have the same sufficient food. And number one, at a price that they can afford,” he said.
“Because again, it is useless to have food if you cannot afford it anyway,” he added.
The agriculture officials at the meeting were Undersecretaries Leocadio Sebastian, Zamzamin Ampatuan, Rodolfo Vicerra and Assistant Secretaries Arnel de Mesa, Agnes Miranda and Jane Bacayo.
Also present were Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez, Presidential Management Staff head Maria Zenaida Angping and National Food Authority Administrator Judy Dansal.
RTL law, RCEP
Marcos asked the agriculture officials to submit to him an assessment of the implementation of the rice trade liberalization (RTL) law, which faces a mid-year scrutiny before Congress this year.
One of Marcos’s campaign promises was to review whether or not the RTL law has been beneficial to rice farmers for the past three years.
Marcos also told the agriculture officials to submit to him a “short memo” regarding their position on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
“Give me a short memo on RCEP, whether or not we should ratify it. The pros and cons,” he said.
Furthermore, Marcos told the agriculture officials to just submit to him necessary executive orders or legislative measures that they will be needing to improve the sector.
“Even the budget, supplementary budget from the House [of Representatives]. Let’s see if we can still get an additional budget,” he said.
The President also advised officials to craft a multiyear plan that would “really reconstruct” the country’s agricultural value chains. Marcos was referring to a plan that may span from 2022 until 2030.
“In the longer term we really have to reconstruct our value chain, starting from our scientists and our researchers all the way to the kadiwa store.
Do not be hesitant to make it multiyear,” he said.
“Because I really don’t believe you can do this if you say one year or three years. Even six years might be insufficient. No, we can do it in six years. We can do this in less than six years I am pretty sure,” he added.
Image credits: Bernard Testa