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Escudero Cites The Weakness Of RP Agriculture And The Needed Reforms

November 10, 2009


Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero says the inability of government to ensure food security, particularly in rice, speaks volumes of its current policy on agriculture where almost 40 percent of the country’s estimated labor force of 36 million is engaged.

Escudero told At Midfield that “only last month, the Department of Agriculture said the remaining rice-import volume approved this year was no longer necessary but just this week the National Food Authority said the country was buying 250,000 tons of rice.”

If 47 percent of 30 million hectares, which is the total land area of the Philippines, is agricultural, it is only natural that policies and programs be crafted to maximize its use so that we can be self-sufficient and even export various produce.

Escudero pointed out:

Implementing genuine land reform and seeing to it that its actual benefits are realized is essential to lessening dependence of food imports and ensuring higher agricultural productivity.

One way of boosting productivity would be for government to condone loans and penalties owed by farmer-beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program.

Let us remove one obstacle that prevents our farmers from moving forward. These are debts that are worth condoning, especially at this time when many of our farms have been devastated by the recent typhoons.

We must do away with fees levied on farmers for the use of water that passes irrigation canals. They are the ones producing the food we eat. And yet, vehicles that traverse public roads, highways and bridges while spewing out noxious fumes are not charged anything at all!

The Senator, who broke away from the Nacionst People’s Coalition in a surpise move several weeks ago told this writer:

Food insecurity will always be an issue if people are unable to feed themselves, emphasizing that self-sufficiency among farmers guarantees that they can produce their food requirements while meeting the nutritional and financial needs of their families.

It is quite refreshing, and inspiring for us to hear a clear policy position from a likely presidential aspurant.

This is a stark departure from how other wannabees are content with getting celebbrity endorsement and making hollow commitments to reforms while being controlled by traditional party politics.

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