IT may now take longer for the Philippines to achieve near “rice-sufficiency” under a new government road map to boost production for the food staple.
In a press conference at the 86th Anniversary of the Government Service Insurance System in Pasay City on Wednesday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. announced they are now targeting to achieve 97-percent rice sufficiency by 2028.
“You do not have to really go to 100 percent because the 3 percent are those niche products like organic or special grain like Japanese rice,” Marcos said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“But with the 97 percent [rice sufficiency], we can say we can feed our citizens sufficient rice,” he added.
In February, Marcos said the government is eyeing to achieve self-sufficiency in rice in just two years through major reorganization in the government.
However, during the Rice Industry Convergence Meeting held at the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Quezon City on Wednesday, the government unveiled a new timeline to boost the country’s rice production.
Marcos said among the highlights of the new road map is the consolidation of farmlands to make farm mechanization more efficient.
“You cannot mechanize if you are tilling only 0.6 hectares. Sometimes that is the available land… you cannot use large tractors for that, which will be very efficient. They can harvest 40 hectares in a day,” Marcos said.
The President also said they also discussed the introduction of digitalization and new technology in the agriculture sector to help increase rice harvest.
He said such will provide farmers updated data and help attract more young people to engage in farming.
Currently, the average age of Filipino farmers is 56 to 57 years old.
“We engage them [young people] with new technologies because they will be the ones who will operate those systems, those new technological systems. And that will make it interesting for young people to come into the sector,” Marcos said.
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