Gov’t should focus on rice, corn production: Piñol

With the skyrocketing prices of imported rice and corn, giving serious adverse impact on the lives of Filipinos, former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said there is a need for the government to change its importation mindset and focus more on the production of such basic commodities.

“The increasing prices of rice and corn will have a serious adverse impact on the lives of Filipinos since we are importing about 3-million metric tons of rice while corn is a vital component for animal feed production which could affect our poultry and hog industry,” Piñol said.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) reported in October that food prices throughout the world have increased by 30 percent in the past year.

Among the commodities whose prices are expected to increase dramatically are rice and corn.

Piñol also emphasized that the increase in the world food crisis will also yield a positive effect on Philippine agriculture because one of the commodities whose prices are expected to skyrocket is vegetable oil.

For rice, he said the government must address the very low farm gate prices which affect farmers’ planting intentions.

“An increase in the buying price of local palay would certainly boost production and ensure the country of sufficient supply in the face of an impending crisis. Unless we prepare this early, Filipino consumers will suffer from very high prices of the basic food commodities in the coming months,” Piñol said.

He also suggested that the government should give its support by providing free corn seeds to the corn farmers adding that the high prices of corn seeds have discouraged them from expanding their farms.

He added that the government should also address the high cost of fertilizers which would affect farmers’ productivity.

“In the short-term, call the local fertilizer suppliers and come up with a system to tame the prices or subsidize the fertilizers at the source. For a long-term and sustainable solution, the government must really invest in fertilizer production, both inorganic and organic,” Piñol said.

For organic fertilizer, he cited that the biggest potential is the Seaweed-based fertilizer which needs further development and improvement.

“Let us face this impending problem with positivity rather than despair.  Let us look at this crisis as a window of opportunity for us. Let us prepare for the problems and ride on the opportunities,” Piñol added. (NW)