The University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) community on Wednesday lauded the appointment of former senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agriculture Modernization since it comes at a time when the agriculture sector needs a competent and dedicated leader to head crucial agencies whose primary function is to ensure adequate food and improve the plight of farmers.
Dr. Domingo E. Angeles, Professor and Dean of the UPLB College of Agriculture, said Pangilinan’s exposure and experiences in agriculture during his term as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture will help him confront problems in the farm sector.
Pangilinan now heads the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Fertilizer Pesticide Authority (FPA).
For the country to achieve food sufficiency, Angeles said the government should invest in new irrigation systems and implement an honest-to-goodness program on reforestation of watersheds so that farms will have ample supply of water particularly during the dry season.
It should also come up with an acceptable, simplified program that will encourage local government units to subsidize hybrid seeds to be used by farmers, prohibit the conversion of agricultural lands, provide incentives to the youth to remain in the agricultural sector and expand the implementation of farm mechanization law to increase production efficiency.
Angeles attributed the proliferation of rice smuggling to the inefficiency of the country’s production system thereby doubling the local price as against the grain imported from Vietnam and Thailand.
The UPLB dean stressed the need for the country to review its population growth rate since it is also “a factor that influences rice self-sufficiency.”
“At a two percent growth rate in the population, in 30 years, we will be close to 180 million. Without any increase in the current area devoted to rice, the future becomes bleak,” he told The Manila Times.
Angeles said inefficient production system, high post-harvest losses, needed reforms in transport and distribution system and warehousing support in various regions should be given priority to prevent the spiralling prices of basic farm produce like rice and smuggling of farm products.