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Agriculture chief Piñol proposes P62-B program to achieve rice sufficiency in two years

  • 27 July 2016, Wednesday

Source: International Business Times
25 Jul 2016

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol seeks a P62 billion fund from the national government to reduce rice shortage in the country and attain a 100 percent rice self sufficiency by 2018.

“For the next four cropping seasons, I have asked the national government to provide a support fund of P62 billion,” Business World reported Piñol as saying during the rice sector stakeholder’s meeting held at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture.

“We project that we will be able to reduce the rice shortage of the country to the point that by the end of 2018 we will be 100% self-sufficient,” Piñol added.

Piñol said that the P62 billion proposed budget will fund the improvement of fertilizer, seeds and insurance in the coming four planting seasons stretching from September to April.

Among the proposed plans include:

  • planting of rice on some 830,000 hectares in the coming dry season cropping
  • attaining rice sufficiency by cultivating hybrid rice
  • expanding the country’s total hybrid rice hectarage by 2020.

The agri-chief is relying on the farmers that are currently yielding four times more or 16 metric tons of hybrid rice per hectare (MT/ha) compared to the average harvest of 4 MT/ha of regular rice.

At present, the country has 400,000 ha of land where hybrid rice is cultivated.

However, Department of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said that the proposal must undergo an interagency review, labeling its details as “scanty.”

“He said he needed this money but how is it going to be produced. Is it a loan? Is it a grant for farmers? What is it, I really don’t know yet,” Dominguez said.

The agriculture sector has a remaining P17 billion worth of undisbursed funds from 2016.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte has granted the request of the agri-chief for a presidential executive order ruling that the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM), and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will be back under the full control of the DA.