RP to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013 - PGMA
Manila (21 November) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed hope that the country will attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013.
The President said the government's investments in agricultural infrastructure increased rice production by an average of four percent this year.
"We are investing heavily in bringing up the productivity of our farmers. And it is paying off with increased productivity this year. We hope to be rice self-sufficient within five years," the President said when she was interviewed Thursday (Nov. 20) over DXOC-Ozamiz City at the airport in Gango town here.
She said the government has taken decisive steps to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013 by allocating massive funding for a wide range of agriculture-related projects, including irrigation, farm-to-market roads, dryers, cold storage plants, and the development of hybrid seeds.
"Now, we are investing in FIELDS so that, hopefully, we reduce our import dependency," the Chief Executive said, stressing that it is the government's commitment to make food available to all Filipinos.
She said the new economics of global food security makes it imperative for the country to control its own destiny in terms of rice sufficiency.
The government's longer-term efforts to promote rice self-sufficiency will also ensure that "we will no longer have to rely on expensive imports to meet our country's needs for this important commodity," she added.
The Philippines produces about 90 percent of its rice needs; the remaining 10 percent is imported from Vietnam and other countries.
The President acknowledged that the global spike in rice, food and fuel prices has placed a tremendous strain on ordinary Filipinos, but stressed that government responded to this challenge in a swift, measured and targeted manner.
She pointed out that because its first priority was to stabilize the supply of rice, the government had to submit early bids to buy rice from Vietnam and Thailand in anticipation of a major price surge at mid-year.
The government has also put in place distribution mechanisms to make sure that the rice supply reached the right people at the right price through the collaborative efforts of churches, schools and civic organizations.
"Today, our prices of rice have remained reasonable and supply is adequate," the President said as she assured that the government will continue to assist the poor through subsidized rice.
"It is important that the poorest among us continue to receive assistance with the rice they purchase and it is part of our commitment to share the results of our economic success with all Filipinos," she added. (PIA-MMIO) [top]