MANILA – Department of Agriculture (DA) Proceso Alcala on Monday said the country will finally achieve rice sufficiency if the farmers will get more support through needed infrastructures and other assistance.
”We can see rice sufficiency but there are some provisions that we have to follow. Let’s be just transparent, we can achieve if we have intervention such as post harvest facilities and farm mechanization,” Alcala said in a media interview after the Senate budget hearing.
Alcala said the DA has been asking the Senate and House of Representatives for higher budget to achieve the rice sufficiency next year.
”We are taking advantage of this opportunity to get the sympathy of our lawmakers so that we will have additional budget next year so that we will reach the goal,” Alcala said.
During the hearing, Alcala and presidential adviser for food, security and agricultural modernization Secretary Francis Pangilinan admitted that rice shortfall in 2014 could reach 1.2 million metric tons.
With this, Senator Francis Escudero III asked both officials to come out with exact computation on projected shortfall “so as not to trigger prices of rice.”
”It seems our importation is increasing. Last year, more than 200,000 metric tons only. This year 1.1 million MT. What is the direction of self-sufficiency because instead lowering, our importation has increased,” Escudero commented.
Escudero said the National Food Authority (NFA) has standby authority to import 500,000 metric tons next year.
Alcala reported to the committee that the Philippines surpassed the 2010-2014 production growth of the Asia’s major rice exporters such as India, Vietnam, Thailand and China.
”We have historical best of 18.4 million metric ton rice production volume in 2013,” he said.
Alcala said the first semester 2014 production growth of 4.8 percent has significantly exceeded the 1.3 percent growth for the same period last year.
With an average growth of 4.89 percent, the Philippines has bested India’s 4.66 percent, Vietnam’s 2.89 percent, China’s 1.08 percent, Japan’s 0.39 percent and Thailand’s 0.25 percent.
The DA has submitted a proposed Php51.66 budget for 2015 which the Senate finance committee recommended for plenary consideration and debate.
Meanwhile, the Senate panel chaired by Escudero also approved the proposed Php4.25 billion budget of the NFA; Php4.085 billion of Philippine Coconut Authority; Php28.82 billion of National Irrigation Administration; and, Php57.98 million of Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.