PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said on Thursday that his goals for agriculture go beyond achieving self-sufficiency, and extend to making the Philippines a global leader in food production.
“The work to improve our agricultural sector and improve the plight of our farmers and fisherfolk has only just begun. We need to continue to open more opportunities to improve their wellbeing,” he said at a trade show.
Mr. Marcos said the Philippines is currently only “playing catch-up” in strengthening its agriculture sector, whose contribution to economic growth has been “diminished.”
“That is why it is important that we accelerate all our efforts,” Mr. Marcos said.
“With our energies and resources combined, I am confident that we will not only achieve our goal of feeding the Filipino people but also achieve our dream of making the Philippines a leading agricultural resource hub in the region and the world.”
Agricultural output declined 0.3% by value in the first quarter led by fisheries, livestock and crops.
Mr. Marcos said the government has expanded irrigation projects, created food logistics hubs and agri-trading centers, and aided cooperatives and associations in procuring refrigerated vans, freezers, chillers, and other equipment.
He added that the government has also provided various forms of aid, disbursing more than P590 million in financial assistance to rice farmers and P320 million for the Fuel Discount Program.
Mr. Marcos has decided to serve as his own Secretary of Agriculture with a promise to boost food production and limit imports where possible.
He faces challenges like inflation and the rising cost of farm inputs as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine, and could be under pressure to take a free-trade approach despite signaling protectionist policies. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza