Agriculture key to development – senator

November 11, 2010

Raadee S. Sausa
The Manila Times
November 11, 2010

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija: Senate committee on agriculture Chairman Sen. Francis Pangilinan emphasized the need for a more encompassing approach in finding solutions for the agriculture sector that will propel the country to become a developed nation in the next 15 years.
“We cannot reach the developed nation status unless we address agriculture, uplift the income of farmers and fisher folks, and ensure food security and rice sufficiency,” Pangilinan said during the 25th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Nueva Ecija recently.

Pangilinan underscored the immediacy of “winning the war” against problems that delay the country in alleviating its status as one the worlds’ largest rice importer. The Philippines, which have been importing rice for 36 years, is one of the world’s biggest rice importers.

Saluting PhilRice for its “sacrifices in helping the country become rice sufficient,” the former Senate majority leader said the burden of providing enough rice for the all Filipinos entails collective action from the government, private, academe and business sectors.

“[The bid for enough rice is not only the responsibility of PhilRice. Rice sufficiency] is everyone’s concern,” Pangilinan pointed out.
In public administration, Pangilinan called for a sustained and efficient implementation of agriculture-related policies and drafting of a road map for agriculture, which will be executed and sustained for more than six years.

Stressing that no country has progressed without a plan extending to 20 years, he revealed that a multi-sectoral planning workshop will be held in January 2011 to craft a new agricultural development plan that will not only improve rice productivity but will also increase the income of rice farmers.

“Even if we have attained rice sufficiency, but our farmers’ conditions are not improved, the war is not fully won. Let us not forget that there are faces [behind the grains that we consume]. It is unjust to increase rice productivity without lifting farmers’ economic status,” Pangilinan said.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Agriculture urged PhilRice to further increase farmers’ access on high-yielding and climate change-ready seeds; develop practical and cost-efficient technologies; promote initiative and support from policy research to guide decision makers in “deciding actions that would help the county achieve the millennium development goal of slashing poverty and hunger by half in 2015.”

Puyat, representing the Agriculture department, congratulated PhilRice for its “efficient and honest labors in promoting technologies and knowledge,” which according to her, are for the environment and for the people.

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