May 20, 2012
'Neutral' investments in agriculture
The country doesn't live from rice alone.
Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday said government should roll out an expanded and holistic approach in attaining food security in the country, which should cover sufficiency targets in all sectors of agriculture.
"The goal of achieving food security should not be pegged alone on attaining rice sufficiency. There are other sectors of agriculture that are equally important in delivering adequate food supply to our people," Recto, Senate ways and means chair and Senate agriculture and food member, said.
Recto said the government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), should focus on bankrolling "neutral investments" in agriculture that would benefit all sub-sectors like hog-livestock raisers, fruits and vegetable farmers, fishermen and other produce planters.
He said the DA may also have to rethink its plan to invest in more post-harvest facilities and irrigation systems to attain sufficiency in rice by 2013.
"While the rice sector will post surpluses next year, let's not forget the livestock sector," Recto said.
He added: "More neutral investments would benefit everyone."
Recto stressed a more "neutral investment" is building additional farm-to-market roads that would benefit all sub-sectors such as hog raisers, fisherfolks, fruit and vegetable dealers and other fresh food haulers who will bring in their products to the nearest market.
"The high prices of livestock and other fresh produce is largely blamed on lack of logistics like roads and transport - that it has become cheaper to import than to haul fresh produce from Mindanao to Metro Manila," he said.
Recto said this is also the reason why unscrupulous groups are turning to smuggling of agricultural products to cash in on the poor logistics.
"With more farm-to-market roads being paved and transportation becomes efficient, farmers, fisherfolks and livestock raisers will translate this new found access to logistics to competitive prices," the senator said.
Agriculture officials are confident of accomplishing the goal of attaining rice sufficiency in 2013 as the country veers away from being a rice importing country to an exporter.
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