Press Release
November 27, 2006

Villar bats for contingency measures to address imminent drought
Senate President prods DA to promote high-value crops that thrive on dry land

Senate President Manny Villar, President of Nacionalista Party, today urged officials of the Department of Agriculture and other concerned agencies to come up with doable contingency measures to cope with the impending drought brought about by the El Nio phenomenon.

Daig ng maagap ang masikap, kaya ngayon pa lamang ay nais nating tawagin ang pansin ng Department of Agriculture at iba pang sangay ng pamahalaan na paghandaan ang pagdating ng El Nio, Senate President Villar said.

He said the government should always be one-step head of any contingency that threaten to disrupt the livelihood and well-being of the citizenry.

Villar asked the DA to formulate an action plan that would cushion the impact of El Nio, especially on the countrys food security. He noted that the country remains largely an agricultural economy, with an overwhelming majority of the population dependent on the farming sector.

It is important at this point that frontline agencies of the government are one-step ahead of whatever contingency would come our way. On the weather bureaus prediction that we should brace for the onslaught of El Nio in the coming months, I think it is in tall order that the government should be ready with a doable action plan to mitigate the effects of El Nio, Villar said.

The Senate President said the Agriculture department should seriously consider the idea of reworking the planting intentions of farmers in light of recent developments that have raised the demand for high-value crops.

Villar said that with the imminent drought, the DA should focus on promoting rice varieties, which do not require plenty of water. The department should also encourage farmers to shift to high-value crops such as corn and cassava that thrive on dry land.

He said the expected enactment of the landmark Biofuels Act of 2006, which has gone through final approval by the Senate, would open new opportunities for farmers to cash in on the national governments program to promote alternative fuel as a way of weaning the country away from expensive fossil fuels.

Introducing our farmers to new plant intentions would create opportunities for them and keep them from being displaced by the impending drought. The government should be creative enough to address this weather phenomenon, Villar said.

He also called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to work closely with the DA and other agencies and prevent price manipulation by unscrupulous traders.

Dapat maging handa ang ating gobyerno sa lahat ng maaring maging epekto ng El Nio, Villar said.

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