Marcos dared to reveal detailed plans on Masagana 150

·2 min read
Philippine President Ferdinand
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. responds to reporters during a press briefing at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang, Tuesday, July 5, 2022, after presiding over the first meeting of his Cabinet. (Photo: Robinson Niñal/PCOO)

In another case of history repeating itself, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who is also the acting agriculture chief, wants to revive a martial law-era agricultural program that left hundreds of farmers and rural banks bankrupt to resolve rice shortage in the country.

“Masagana 150,” dubbed after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s similar program Masagana 99, aims to increase rice production and shall employ “new tech” to increase the yielding of rice, according to Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista.

“It’s anchored in increasing the yield based on the tech we can avail of, and the tech we have but the idea is to reach that much as far as canvas is concerned… We’re looking at how and when this can be implemented,” Evangelista said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.

“If Masagana 150 will be implemented, we’re looking at it to bring down the price of rice and helping our farmers come up with better yield,” Evangelista further pointed out.

In order to sustain the program, Evangelista said that the Agriculture Credit Policy Council may grant loans to help cooperatives.

However, farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) is challenging President Marcos to lay all cards on the table as to how the program will be implemented and carried out.

Mahirap abutin as a national average ang 150 cavans at 200 cavans hangga’t napakataas ng cost of production sa palay at walang ibinubuhos na suporta at subsidyo sa produksyon para sa magsasaka ang gobyerno,” Rafael Mariano, KMP’s Chairperson and the the former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary, said.

(It’s hard to reach the national average of 150 to 200 cavans as long as the cost of producing rice is too high and the government is not supporting or subsidizing the production of farmers.)

Mariano said that the proposed program, which targets to yield 7.5 tons per hectare at P8.38 production cost per kilogram or P50,000 per hectare net profit for farmers, looks good on paper but without a detailed plan from the government as to how it plans on bringing down the cost of production, it will not “directly address” the rice shortage in the country.

“There is a need to revive the local agriculture and make domestic food production a priority by suspending conversion of agricultural lands, providing P15,000 subsidy for Filipino farmers and fisherfolk, allotting 10% of the national budget for agriculture and ending reliance on importation of agricultural products starting with the repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law,” Mariano further pointed out.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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