The agriculture sector may get much-deserved attention from a national leadership under presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who vowed to push for a holistic approach to address all its concern.
Marcos, standard bearer of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, told a radio interview in Tacloban City that the country’s agriculture system must be enhanced to ensure the welfare of formers who have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcos explained that holistic approach would invest heavily in research and establish programs to assist farmers until post-harvest production. He added that these programs would complement each other, resulting in a sustainable and viable agriculture sector.
“Malaking sistema ang agrikultura at kailangan nating buoin ulit ‘yan para maging mas maganda ang buhay ng ating mga magsasaka. Ang tulong na mabibigay ng gobyerno ay ang magbuo ng sistema ‘gaya ng meron tayo noon (Agriculture is a huge structure that we have to rebuild to make life better for our farmers. The government can help by building a system similar to what we had in the past.)” Marcos said.
He recalled the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the 1960s which became an initial step in introducing improvements in the agriculture secftor.
Marcos explained that researchers will find other crops that can withstand the changing weather and different ways to help farmers as they are the most affected sector during calamities.
After research, Marcos said loan packages through farm inputs and technological support must be readily available.
In 1973, Marcos’s father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. created a program called ‘Masagana 99’ to help farmers by providing technology packages of high-yielding rice varieties and low-cost pesticides and fertilizers. The program aims to solve the rice shortage crisis.
Marcos said the Masagana 99 and the Kadiwa retail are systematic programs that benefited the farmers and the consumers. Kadiwa was initiated by his mother, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
“Meron tayong sistema noon. Meron tayong Masagana 99 for high production, merong IRRI (International Rice Research Institute), meron tayong NFA (National Food Authority) na ini-stabilize yung presyo ng palay at mais (We used to have a system. We had Masagana 99 for high production, we also had IRRI, we had NFA (National Food authority) that stabilized the price of palay and corn,” Marcos said.
He stressed the importance of providing farmers technical support that exists but must be expanded.
According to him there is also a need to provide technical demonstration where scientists are the ones who approach farmers and teach then new technologies about products to be used.
Marcos said the government must also furnish large-scale milling and dryer machines to help farmers improve and increase their productivity.
He said this system of giving loans and assisting farmers in their harvest and the post-harvest process is what he did as the governor of Ilocos Norte.