Malacañang not impressed with Alcala’s pet project

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INSTEAD of focusing on the ambitious rice self-sufficiency program, the Department of Agriculture (DA) should work to improve the entire agriculture sector to achieve inclusive growth, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Tuesday.

Short of saying that the rice self-sufficiency program is a failure, Coloma said the DA should take steps to improve the entire agriculture sector, which contributed only 1.1 percent to the 7.2 percent growth posted by the economy last year.

“By itself, ‘yung rice [self-] sufficiency target is a worthy objective, but it cannot also by itself increase the productivity of the entire agricultural sector. Since we want inclusive growth, and since we accept that a big number of Filipinos are in the agricultural sector, namely farmers and fisherfolk, then to achieve inclusive growth, we will have to work at improving the productivity of the entire agricultural sector, and not just of rice farmers,” the Palace official told reporters.

The rice self-sufficiency program is the pet project of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who had been criticized for his failure to stop rice smuggling.


The agriculture sector he stressed, paled in comparison with the performance of the services and the manufacturing sectors.

“Kaya hindi singular ‘yung focus lamang to increasing productivity of ricelands, but as I mentioned earlier, to increase productivity of the entire agricultural sector. Wala tayong mindset na ‘yung rice self-sufficiency lamang ang tinutulak natin. Ang importante the productivity of the entire agricultural sector,” Coloma said.

However, he recognized the importance of rice productivity and self-sufficiency, which targets improvements in rice harvests.

Still, the official noted that the Cabinet has agreed that the DA should work out a plan to boost the productivity of all agricultural products.

“Because this will give a more significant contribution to the inclusive growth we aspire,” he said.

The Cabinet’s economic cluster, he added, believe that most poor Filipinos belong to the farm and fisheries sectors.

To remedy the problem, Coloma said there should be a “systemic view” and implementation of “systemic reforms” to prevent cases such as rice smuggling which is now being investigated by Congress.

“[Reforms] will help the overall economic development effort, even as we continue focusing on resolving the weaknesses of the present system that paved the way for the anomalous transactions,” he pointed out.

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2 Comments

  1. Rolando Nolasco on

    I worked with the Dept. of Agriculture for more than 2 decades with so much frustration with local leaders and as well as employees of the agency especially those with connection to politicians. The need to focus on the need upland areas and those living along shorelines will be a big boast to marginal farmers. The integrated crop farming system coupled with intensive livestock raising will be a big help to marginal farmers. An honest and dedicated staff of the agency is required so that farmers will be properly educated on the importance of this scheme. The maximum utilization of plant and animal by-products will greatly reduce production cost. In addition, teaching families to process their produce to provide additional income for them will allow them to keep for a while until supply becomes stabilized. We have successful growers’ cooperatives that can help them reduce input cost and help market their produce as well to improve vastly their return of investment and freed from the clout of middlemen. Gradually upgrading native stocks to enhance profit for livestock raisers is a must. I have always believed that our native chickens can produce profitably if they were raised in semi-confinement to prevent yearly occurrence of diseases by adhering to proper disease control, providing safe housing and proper feeding. We have now successful native chicken farmers who proved this can be done. In poultry business, minimizing inbreeding can greatly enhance productivity by segregation of the males from females before they come to maturity. Males are caponized for better market value as they grow faster while introducing the young females to unrelated males following the ratio of 10: 1.

    • Mr. Nolasco, I completely agree with you. I used to work for a foreign ag agency in Manila and got familiarized with different sectors of the agricultural industry in the Philippines. But now, I know what hampered the growth of this particular industry was and is due to rampant corruptions from the higher up down to the lower levels of the government. It sickens me to even think how these leeches continue to fatten up themselves with no end. This has got to stop!