President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said the country would be close to attaining self-sufficiency in rice in two years if the government could carry out major reorganization involving different agencies.
The President made the comment following a meeting at Malacañang with the officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), who briefed him on the state of the country’s irrigation system.
“From that discussion, we have begun to put in the timetable of what are the things that we need to do. And sa aming calculation, kung magawa natin lahat ng kailangang gawin kasi marami tayong kailangan ayusin, marami tayong ire-reorganize — pero kung magawa natin lahat ‘yan, we will be close to self-sufficiency for rice in two years,” President Marcos said.
“There’s a great deal of work to do pero nakikita na namin kung papaano gagawin. So that’s what we will work on for now.”
The President said it requires cooperation, convergence, and coordination with other agencies such as the DA, NIA, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
“So our next meeting will be that. Nandiyan na lahat ng mga concerned agencies and we will present the timetable as to what needs to be done, what forms of coordination need to be done,” he said.
The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program was created under Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law to improve the competitiveness of farmers amid the liberalization of the rice trade policy.
To complement the RCEF, the government has been implementing strategies to increase rice production, such as convincing irrigators associations (IA) and farmers to plant hybrid rice seeds, adopting alternate wetting and drying as a water-saving technology for irrigated lands, harvesting in September during the wet season, and ratooning after harvesting during the wet season.
Ratooning is the agricultural practice of harvesting a monocot crop by cutting most of the above-ground portion but leaving the roots to allow the plants to recover and produce a fresh crop in the next season.
NIA is implementing several measures to develop the Philippine irrigation infrastructure.
Among the NIA strategies include public-private partnerships (PPPs) on irrigation infrastructure development, climate-proof infrastructure, flood control management, and massive reforestation of NIA-supervised watershed areas.
NIA, a government-owned or controlled corporation (GOCC) responsible for irrigation development and management, has a total investment pledge of more than P1 trillion from potential private partners, which would allow it to pursue its irrigation projects without the restriction of limited funding.
As of December 31, 2021, only 2.04 million hectares (ha), or 65 percent of the country’s potential irrigable area of 3.13 million hectares, had been developed, benefitting around 1.5 million farmers with irrigation.
However, around 1.09 million ha (35 percent) of the remaining areas still need to be developed.
CurrentPH News Service