Farm organization offers PBBM three-point plan to stop food insecurity – Manila Bulletin

0

The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) held its first kapihan on July 8, 2022, the first in a regular series where practitioners from industry, government, media and with its new hybrid configuration, the public can discuss the challenges and possible solutions facing the agricultural industry.

Titled “Usapang Pagkain,” the discussion focused on the country’s current food insecurity, as well as possible solutions the new administration can explore.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

PCAFI President Danilo Fausto outlined the three most pressing issues affecting food security in the Philippines that he alerted the President, who is also the current Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. They are the following:

Allocate resources to the agricultural industry. “As reported by Secretary Avisado before, in April, 85% of our budget for 2022 has already been committed or spent. If we have to include May or June, then we can make sure the Treasury is empty,” Fausto says.

Instead of waiting for a budget increase in 2023, the Chamber is proposing the use of future allocations to other agencies for immediate use in the agricultural sector.

Perhaps the president could “declare a state of emergency or food sufficiency calamity,” Fausto posits, adding, “so that the president can encourage and direct local government units to earmark some of these funds to agricultural production” which includes “food production”. , value chain, processing, supply chain and inputs.

Included here is the request for the president to review the Philippine Guarantee Corporation, which currently prioritizes real estate over agriculture.

“Why do we need the guarantee? Because farmers… can’t go to the bank without collateral. But if we have a guarantee for the Philippine Guarantee Corporation, maybe the bank can lend them and not consider farming as a risky business,” explains Fausto. “Right now, I would estimate that around 1 trillion pesos is available to lend to agri-agra, and we can mobilize that.”

Increase productivity by encouraging investment. The Philippines’ appetite for imports discourages producers and businessmen from expanding their businesses as they will be “in competition with heavily subsidized products from other countries”.

“Agriculture should not be treated as a charitable sector,” says Fausto. “We must encourage investment because more than 95% of agricultural production comes from the private sector.”

The Chamber suggests “encouraging the private sector and giving it incentives so that it can invest more and produce more food”.

When it comes to rice, Fausto, a rice farmer, suggests moving to a triple-cropping system, much of which will involve growing seedlings off-site before transferring them to the paddies instead of growing from seed, which which will shorten the growing period from 115 to 90 days, while allowing the soil to rest for a month between plantings. If executed correctly, this will add an additional 7.5 million metric tons to the average of 19.9 million metric tons harvested in 2021 (based on a harvest of 4.5 tons per hectare using organic seed ) for a total average of 27 million metric tons, more than enough to meet the country’s demand. “If we have a triple crop and we have more yield per hectare, what will be the result? We can export rice.

In terms of aquaculture, fingerling production should be encouraged, as 70% of the country’s fingerlings are currently imported. “We are proposing that this be done primarily in areas of the Ilocos region…and that the fry be produced in the backyard.”

The Chamber also insists on the need to develop and/or rehabilitate inland water bodies such as the Laguna de Bay.

Fausto also spoke of the loss of farmland to property developers. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Philippines is losing 40,750 hectares of agricultural land per year. “If we estimate or assume that all of this land is rice paddies, then we are talking about 2.5 to 3 million tonnes of land lost due to loss of agricultural land,” Fausto says.

He suggests a moratorium on land conversion. “We have to make sure we have the land. If we don’t have the land, there is no way to plant crops and raise livestock.

Increase private sector participation. The Chamber proposes the establishment of mini agro-industrial centers belonging to cooperatives and farmer/producer associations in 10% of the total barangays, each center being equipped with agricultural equipment and processing machinery related to the agricultural product the most important of the barangay.

For example, a mini agro-industrial center in a rice production area will have a dryer, mill and warehouse, while a fishing community will have flash freezers, storage facilities, an ice factory, a vacuum packaging and smoke ovens. The estimated cost per center is about 2 million pula.

“This will provide a market for our farmers, packaging for our products and ensure that the value chain and supply chain are ready as all mini agro-industrial hubs will be equipped with refrigerated trucks to deliver goods in sync with processors, wholesalers and retailers. This will solve the problem of farmers having a market for their products,” says Fausto, adding that these centers will also understand the need for agricultural technicians.

“And these centers must be technologically connected to the market. Of course, there are people who will be affected like the intermediaries, but they can work with these mini agro-industrial centers as managers or as joint venture partners because farmers need management expertise and business acumen for governance, not to mention financial literacy. ”

The concerns and the solutions may seem drastic to those outside the agricultural sector, but with the country in such a food insecure state, it is imperative that the President, who is also Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, emphasizes the need to strengthen this industry.

“We can solve this problem together,” says Fausto. “Let’s have a paradigm shift (on) what we do locally to produce food.”

SUBSCRIBE TO THE DAILY NEWSLETTER

CLICK HERE TO JOIN

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.