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New agri chief: ₱20/kg rice price not possible today

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 6) — The newly appointed agriculture chief is still not seeing the realization of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s campaign promise of ₱20 per kilogram of rice price within the near future as modernizing the sector will take “a little time.”

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. on Monday said that reducing the commodity’s price is an aspiration but he noted that the global market is facing a 15-year high in rice prices.

He also said there are more “complicated” world problems that would make it difficult to achieve the target, such as climate change, El Niño, and if there would be other wars in other parts of the globe.

“Today, that is not possible,” Laurel said of Marcos’ rice price goal.

“We are getting ready to do our best to try to make rice affordable, kaya ng bulsa ng mamamayan (that won’t hurt the ordinary man’s pocket),” he added. “But we’re hoping to do that towards the end of next year.”

Laurel said the president gave him instructions to “modernize, irrigate, fertilize, and use the right type of seeds as soon as possible.” He added there is special emphasis on increasing rice production.

“Modernizing is not easy, may (there’s a) procurement process, it might take a little time but we are going to do it as fast as possible,” he told reporters in his first briefing as the new DA chief.

“It is possible to lower the price, definitely, but we have to have our silos, buffer stock, and change some laws, I believe,” he added.

When asked his thoughts regarding reviving Masagana 99 — the agricultural program to increase rice production by the president’s father and late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos — Laurel said he has yet to talk with Isabela Rep. Tonypet Albano about it.

Albano, a supporter of the program’s revival, was told by House Speaker Martin Romualdez to help the DA moving ahead, Laurel said. The lawmaker was present during the briefing.

“If that Masagana 99, or 100 whatever it is, is for rice production, increased production, then ‘yong gusto ni PBBM (what the president wants) mechanized, increased production, technically we’re aligned if that is the direction,” he said.

In 2020, experts who were part of Masagana 99’s implementation criticized it for its use of pesticides that damaged the environment, and loss of trained personnel, among others. The program was eventually scrapped in 1984.

Carlos Dominguez III, who was the agriculture secretary during former President Corazon Aquino’s administration, also said there were about 800 rural banks that were bankrupted by the program. QR Code

Published Date: November 6, 2023

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