By Azer Parrocha
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is aiming to make operations at the Department of Agriculture (DA) more “high-tech” to ensure a more resilient and productive agriculture sector.
In a media interview after distributing aid to beneficiaries in Pili, Camarines Sur, he said “structural challenges” remain among the DA’s biggest concerns.
“We have to convert the Department of Agriculture into a high-tech operation dahil that’s the only ngayon (because that’s the only [way] now) to increase production,” Marcos, who also heads the DA, told reporters.
The President said current agriculture technologies exist but it is just a matter of knowing how to use them.
“Magpaturo tayo sa iba-iba. Dati tayo ang nagtuturo sa kanila. Ngayon, tayo ang mag-aaral sa kanila. Pero matutunan natin ‘yung pinakamagagandang bagong technique at estratehiya para sa pagsasaka at ipapasa natin ‘yan sa mga farmer (Let’s learn from others. We used to teach them. Now, let us learn from them. We must learn new techniques and strategies on farming and relay them to farmers),” he said.
He said the DA must promote consolidation to increase the productivity and competitiveness of Filipino farmers.
“Ang pinakauna na aming talagang tinutugunan ay yung tinatawag na consolidation. Para tumaas ang production natin, para bumaba ang presyo ng produksyon, kailangan malalaki, malalawak ang pinag-aanihan ang sinasaka (The first thing we are really addressing is the so-called consolidation. For our production to increase, for the price of production to decrease, we must have large, extensive farms),” he added.
Marcos said he also wanted to strengthen farmers and their respective cooperatives and associations (FCAs).
He acknowledged that there are still a few major challenges that the DA must face, especially because the agency has mostly been implementing “emergency measures” amid high inflation.
Although the DA continues to prioritize efforts to reduce the prices of agricultural products, it is also rebuilding the agriculture value chain, he said.
“Marami kaming pinaplano na hindi pa namin ma-implement dahil busy kami dito sa pababain yung presyo ng sibuyas, pababain ang presyo ng bigas, ng asukal, lahat ng gulay (There are a lot of plans that we have yet to implement because we’re busy reducing the prices of onions, rice, sugar, all vegetables),” he said. “Ngunit ngayon nagsisimula na kami at dahan-dahan ‘yung sistema. ‘Yung lagi kong pinag-uusapan na value chain ay dahan-dahang binubuo na natin (But we are slowly rebuilding the value chain).”
During his meeting with officials of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna last November, Marcos said he found renewed hope in technological innovations that could greatly shape the country’s agricultural industry over time.
He likewise said the government must make sure that these agricultural technologies reach the grassroots. (PNA)