Lawmaker cites need to improve agriculture sector

November 8, 2010
The Philippine Star
November 8, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Francis N. Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture, 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), last Friday.
To become a developed nation, 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 has been importing rice for 36 years, is one of the world’s biggest rice importers. However, the country did not import rice in 1978-1983; 1987; 1991-1992; and 1994.
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,” he 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, as well.
“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,” he said.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette T. Romulo-Puyat 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 DA, 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.
“Thank you for your commendable service to the Filipinos,” Puyat said to about 500 PhilRice staff gathered together to recognize the Institute’s outstanding employees, loyalty and scholastic awardees, and to pay tribute to its benefactors.
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