BAGUIO CITY – The Philippines has saved P147 billion by not importing rice, according to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
From among the biggest rice importers in the past, the Philippines has shored up its coffers with the agriculture department’s tack towards 100 percent rice sufficiency, Alcala said.
He placed the country’s self-sufficiency in rice at 82 percent at the start of the Aquino administration in 2010.
Painstaking hard work paid off with the country standing at 96 percent self-sufficiency in 2013 and now hitting the highest rice yield with 18.4 million metric tons, Alcala said.
With the start of ASEAN integration 2015, rice production is trying to be competitive with efforts to lower production cost, Alcala added.
Government is looking to lower production cost from P10.85 to P8.50 per kilo. Vietnam is producing rice at P8.40 per kilo.
Alcala said they are also testing the potential of heirloom rice produced in the highland Cordillera region in the international market.
Government is also conducting road mapping to see where the country can be competitive in terms of other agricultural products in the ASEAN Economic Community 2015.
The agriculture department has started building post-production facilities and implementing value-added vegetable processing and packaging to make “ready-to-eat” packages while continuously helping farmers to be competitive in terms of production and quality of products.
Alcala visited the soon to be completed P600-million Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) in La Trinidad, Benguet, which is seen to provide a reliable system of production and marketing of safe and good quality vegetable products.