Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. on Sunday said he intends to pursue a holistic approach for the development of the country’s agriculture.
Marcos, who is the standard-bearer of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, underscored the need to develop the country’s agriculture to improve the lives of the Filipino farmers who are among the heavily affected sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former senator said this comprehensive approach to developing the country’s agriculture would heavily invest in research and establish programs to assist farmers until post-harvest production.
Marcos said these programs would complement each other, resulting in a sustainable and viable agricultural development path.
“Agriculture is a big system and we need to rebuild it to make the lives of our farmers better. The help that the government can provide is to build a system like we had before,” Marcos said.
Recalling the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the 1960s, Marcos said research is the first step in improving the agriculture sector. Researchers will find other crops that can withstand the changing weather and different ways to help farmers as they are the most affected sector during calamities.
After research, Marcos said loan packages through farm inputs and technological support must be readily available.
“The seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, all of that, the government should be able to buy a lot to make it cheaper and then include that in the production loan. The government should not make money so they can give it cheaper,” Marcos said.
“We had a system then. We had Masagana 99 for high production, we had IRRI, we had NFA that stabilized the price of rice and corn,” Marcos said, referring to International Rice Research Institute and National Food Authority.
Marcos said the government must also furnish large-scale milling and dryer machines to help farmers improve and increase their productivity.
He said this system of giving loans and assisting farmers in their harvest and the post-harvest process is what he did as the governor of Ilocos Norte.
“That’s what we did in Ilocos Norte. What we did was I set aside funds, that’s what we used for the production loan. We bought a lot of pesticides, a lot of fertilizers, all that and that’s what we included in the production loan. The farmer pays, not money. They pay with their harvest. So the harvested rice, when I was the provincial governor, was stored and then processed in big milling machines,” he said.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that agriculture production declined to 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2021.
“Let’s go back to agriculture. Let’s re-strengthen it because in truth, it has been left behind. Agriculture has been neglected in the Philippines, so we need to go back,” Marcos said.