Aquino Pushes Food Sufficiency Program

MANILA, Philippines --- President Benigno S. Aquino III said yesterday that the Philippines is mulling to be self-sufficient in other agriculture products like corn and cassava once the country attains rice self-sufficiency under his term.

President Aquino made the reaction as he led the launch of the Food Staple Sufficiency Program (FSSP) at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

''Sa pamamagitan ng ating Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), hindi daw po magtatagal, maging ang iba pang produkto tulad ng mais at cassava, pati ang iba pang prutas at gulay, hindi na rin natin kailangang angkatin pa [Under the FSSP, there won't be any need for us to import other products like corn and cassava as well as some fruits and vegetables in the future],'' Aquino said, lauding Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala for a job well done in the agriculture sector, particularly in treading the straight path.

Aquino said that the Philippines, provided less agricultural damages from typhoons this year, would be able to attain rice self-sufficiency in 2013.

Aquino noted that this is due to the DA's efforts to provide sufficient planning, irrigation and certified seeds.

The President also slammed the former Arroyo administration for over-importation of rice, as he recalled that the former administration imported 2.47 million metric tons of rice when the country only needed 1.3 million metric tons.

''Kailan kaya nabili iyong calculator nila? [I wonder where they bought their calculator],'' Aquino said.

He said that since he came into office, the DA only imported 850,000 metric tons of rice in 2011 and this year, the country only needs 500,000 metric tons of imported rice.

The President added that if we can bring down post-harvest losses by six percent, there will no longer be rice shortage as it will be an additional 650,000 metric tons of rice supply.

''Ibig sabihin, hindi lang ito sasapat para sa aangkatin nating 500,000 metriko toneladang bigas para sa 2012; may sobra pa po tayo dito [It means it will not just be enough for the 500,000 metric tons of rice to be imported for 2012 but it will be more than enough],'' Aquino said.

He said the Philippines should be rice self-sufficient as the country houses the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which has trained agriculturists from neighboring countries and taught them to be rice self sufficient.

He also said the government continues to strengthen the agriculture sector by providing, among others, P2.6 billion for the acquisition of 7,000 units of post-harvest machinery this year. He also said the government is empowering agriculture research and development (R & D).

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