Mar Roxas on Agriculture

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 | posted in , , , |

The Problem

Insufficient domestic production of rice: Philippines was once known as the prime exporter of rice, but unfortunately, nowadays, we are importing it. The government wasn't able to harness the skills of our farmers in order to increase our rice production as the demand of it increases and instead focused on short-term solutions and helping foreign farmers rather than ours.

Fertilizer fund scam: Corruption and mismanagement in the government has reached to the Department of Agriculture and spared our farmers from benefiting fertilizers worth P728 Million.

Mar Roxas' Action

10-Year Food Security Plan: Roxas wants to formulate a food security plan that is done quietly but competently in consultation with experts and stakeholders, attuned with global trends and realities but with very clear domestic targets and a realistic to-do list. It must be done soup-to-nuts style, meaning from seed distribution to market access and with social programs to help farmers in between cycles. It must identify the number of driers that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will purchase for our farmers per municipality to prevent spoilage and wastage. It also must include a nationwide irrigation plan and funds for R&D attuned to specific rice productivity targets for the next ten years. It should include a detailed plan for other non-agricultural food sectors as well.

Food Transparency: In filing Senate Bill No. 2161, Roxas wants to seek transparency in all government transactions involving food and basic commodities, especially rice and corn. He believes that part of the people’s basic right of access to adequate and affordable food is giving full access to information on the same, including supply, production and imports, prices, and other factors and risks. The said measure would also help institute good governance in all government actions and transactions in relation to food and basic commodities, and help the government in targeting food distribution and soliciting private sector help in improving food security.

Halting conversions of irrigated land: Roxas wants investigate how much has the government spent on irrigation for these converted lands.

Farmers' accessibility on inputs: Roxas' plan wants to ensure that all of the inputs necessary — seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, among others—must be made available to farmers.

Development of 'small water impounding' irrigation systems: As part of improving our irrigation systems, Roxas wants to develop 'small water impounding' irrigation systems which costs only about P30,000 per hectare, versus large-scale irrigation through dams which costs P100,000 per hectare.

Utilize the Agusan and Lanao marsh areas: Roxas wants to open up the Agusan and Lanao marsh areas for planting, as these are ideal for planting rice, similar to the Vietnamese river delta basin.

Put an end to sugar smuggling: Roxas wants to show political will by putting a stop to sugar smuggling and to negotiate the retention of tariffs on imported sugar.

Agriculture support: Roxas wants to allocate P10 Billion in agriculture support, including programs to provide fertilizer support and rehabilitation and maintenance of 1.4 million hectares of irrigated land nationwide.

Agricultural credit: Roxas has filed Senate Bill No. 2916 that would address the credit needs of peasants while at the same time provides security from risks for formal lending institutions. It intends to increase credit opportunities and investments in the rural agricultural sector by enhancing the value of farmlands as credit instruments in the financial market.

Mar Roxas' Record

Record of Advocacy: Roxas has been in touch with the agriculture sector. As then Department of Trade and Industry Secretary, he has teamed-up with the Department of Agriculture in monitoring the prices of agricultural products and making sure that their producers can have accessibility to the markets. He has been fighting against the sugar smuggling that has continued to exist in the country and has been also in the front of introducing agricultural reforms knowing that the country's agriculture sector is its backbone industry.

In the Senate, he has also been standing up for the side of the farmers as corrupt officials diverted the P728 Million Fertilizer Fund into their own pockets. He continues to wage this fight until the people involved in this scam are proven guilty.

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Kevin Ray N. Chua

Kevin Ray N. Chua is a 19 year-old blogger from Cebu City, Philippines and an IT Student at Cebu Institute of Technology.

He is currently the Secretary General of the CIT-SSG.

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