President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is committed to provide long-term solutions to the problems hounding the country’s agriculture sector as a key to building a strong economy.
Speaking to reporters during a Malacañang press briefing, President Marcos, who heads the Department of Agriculture (DA) in a concurrent capacity, said the agriculture sector has a production shortfall in palay, corn, livestock and fisheries.
“That is why I made agriculture the single, the highest priority of everything that we are doing. Because you cannot build a strong economy unless you have a foundation of a robust agricultural sector, which assures food supply even in emergencies. And that’s what we’re working towards,” he said.
“We need long-term solutions. Solutions that can take care of this problem. We no longer take care of the symptoms, we take care of the disease. And that’s what we are trying to do in agri. We have a ways to go.”
Part of the short-term solutions, on the other hand, include increasing production for the rest of the year, with farmers targeting to plant this last cropping season.
Among the thrust is to address gaps in the value chain, which the President said, already exist in the current system.
Although some of the elements are present, there is a need for integration.
“So bubuuin — ‘yan ang gusto nating gawin, buuin natin ‘yun para may savings. When you vertically integrate, ang daming savings all along the line. And that’s — hopefully gets to the point that we can retail these agricultural products at a good price that’s affordable to people,” he pointed out.
With regard to grain production, the plan is to increase local production, the President said.
“So if we are able to increase production sufficiently, then hopefully the importation… We really do not… It’s not really an import substitution measure,” he said.
“It is a strategic food supply measure. But of course, if it’s — nagkaka-import substitution, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. So that’s the plan.”
Regarding pork and chicken supply, President Marcos said the country has to rely on importation because of the effects of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the swine industry and high feed cost brought about by the conflict in Ukraine. PND