March 1, 2011
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan filed a resolution seeking a review of programs and policies of the National Food Authority on rice in keeping up with the country’s increasing population, surging food prices and rising cost of agricultural inputs.
“The NFA is an integral part of our goal in attaining complete self-sufficiency. It is currently struggling with staggering debts and regulating food in the country. With this review we ought to be able to institute needed reforms to help out the NFA.”
According to Pangilinan, Resolution 393 was borne out of the brainstorming sessions in last month’s agricultural summit wherein major players in the agricultural and fisheries sector gathered to address various issues hounding the sector. Agriculture and Fisheries 2025’s (AF2025) main goal was to craft a long-term vision for the sector.
The NFA is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture whose primary task is to ensure food security and the stability of supply and price of rice. It currently imports rice to make up for production shortfalls. As such, as of 2009 the agency accumulated debts amounting to P171 billion, from only approximately P43 billion in 2003.
“We understand that rice reserves are necessary during lean months as a mechanism to prevent a shortage in rice supply. But clearly we need to institute reforms within the NFA to make our efforts more cost-efficient and more streamlined towards our goal of achieving food self-sufficiency. The reforms shall cover efforts to improve agricultural productivity, access to quality seeds, improving irrigation systems, and providing financial schemes for farmers.”
“We may also implement a shift in policy to transfer to farmer associations and private traders the task of importing rice to ease the pressure off the NFA and lessen the risk of the agency to incur more debts. All these are geared towards our goal of attaining complete food self-sufficiency.”