Melody M. Aguiba
November 6, 2010
MANILA, Philippines – The Aquino government is drafting a six-year agricultural development program that will capitalize on agriculture modernization to usher the Philippines to a developed country status within the next 20 years.
An extensive multi-sectoral planning will be held in January 2011 to map out a new agricultural development plan, according to Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate agriculture committee.
“We will formulate our vision of agricultural development. We’ll bring in the best and the brightest in the sector, from the private sector, the govenment, and the academe. We have to come up with a roadmap. We can’t reach a developed country status unless we’re able to ensure food security,” Pangilinan said at the Philippine Rice Research Institute’s (Philrice) 25th anniversary celebration.
The government needs to lead the drafting a new roadmap as the country still apparently failed to adequately produce food despite intensive government effort. This is with Philippines’ rice importation of around two million metric tons (MT) yearly.
“We are losing the battle, and for me it is so unjust to see some people left without food to eat. The worst injustice is our failure to feed our people. Our challenge now is to get out of the list of among the world’s biggest rice importers,” he said.
As a preliminary plan, Pangilinan committed to look into reviewing Philrice’s proposed budget originally set at P418 million. The budget, still under deliberation at the bicameral legislature level, has been trimmed down to P90 million upon legislators’ knowledge that Philrice has funds from foreign sources. “We can look into (raising) this budget,” said Pangilinan.
Philrice Executive Director Ronilo A. Beronio said that with the lower budget, Philrice will have to negotiate with its foreign funders for Philrice to use this budget for its operations rather than for their intended purpose.
Philrice is primarily a research and development agency.
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