August 12, 2011
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and Co-chair of the Congressional Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization, lauds Presidential Proclamation No. 212 declaring February as Countryside Development Month.
The proclamation was signed on August 1, 2011 by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. and, according to a government statement released Friday, “underscored the need to ensure that the framework for countryside development is consistent with the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016.”
The statement further reads, “Both the 16-Point Agenda of the President and Executive Order (EO) No. 43 highlight the importance of rural development in relation to economic growth as well as the need to recognize farms and rural enterprises as vital to achieving food security and more equitable economic growth, worthy of re-investment for sustained productivity.”
“Countryside development with focus on private initiative will encourage an effective, sustained and valuable development program that will provide gainful employment, ensure food security and enable families to improve their standard of living,” the President further said in his statement.
Of this, Pangilinan says, “We welcome this development as this will strengthen our ongoing efforts to push for greater investments for the agricultural sector. Our work in the Senate committee on Agriculture and Food is focused on improving the quality of life of our farmers, and this can only happen if we have more government support and more focused collaboration between the public and private sectors.”
Pangilinan, who has spearheaded a public-private initiative called Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025), cites five “pillars” of sustainable agricultural modernization and growth: access to capital and credit, access to market, roll-out of infrastructure, increased investments in and access to R&D and knowledge transfer, and community organizing for farmers, fisherfolk, and agricultural workers.
“We are primarily an agricultural nation, and if we get our act together and pump in the much-needed and long-overdue investments in this industry, there is no reason why we cannot achieve food security and be a major supplier in the global market, and achieve developed nation status in fifteen, twenty years,” Pangilinan says.
He cites the success stories of Thailand and Vietnam, also pointing out that many of their experts learned best practices from the Philippines
“We already have all the ingredients for success,” Pangilinan points out. “We just need a more focused and sustained push, and solutions that are creative and truly out-of-the-box.”