I can vividly remember when the Duterte administration through its Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol declared in January 2017 that Philippine agriculture will have its “Golden Years”. Thus my question back in 2017 was: How?
I have been carefully observing the programs in Philippine Agriculture as I worked closely with farmers. Apparently, two years have passed since that promise of “Agriculture’s Golden Years”. Within those two years, what we experienced is nothing of “golden years” but suffering from golden prices of agricultural produce
We witnessed the long queues for a relatively cheap but bukbok infested NFA Rice. Worst the DA Secretary himself demonstrated to cook the bukbok infested rice in a futile attempt to justify their incapacities. We cannot accept that bukbok infested rice as the new normal under the Duterte administration’s illusion of “Golden years in PH agriculture”.
In some areas like in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, the price of rice surged to as much a P100 per kilo.
More futile solutions were given by this administration as regards to the rice problem: sending 19 Filipino farmers to Papua New Guinea to farm rice there and to rely on importing rice among other agricultural commodities.
The perceived “Golden Years” of Philippine agriculture is nothing but another PR circus of this administration. The current state of Philippine agriculture under Duterte-Piñol leadership is in deep crises and bankruptcy.
We can discuss in detail various parameters relative to sufficiency and PH’s agriculture performance. However, I prefer to define crises in PH agriculture as simple as possible: an agricultural country importing rice, an archipelago importing fish.
While the Piñol administration justifies importation of Galunggong as being practiced by previous administrations that do not necessarily mean it is right as well as sustainable. This administration’s rhetoric cannot justify an archipelago with one of the world’s longest coastlines resulted in the importation of Galunggong.
This government also failed the majority of the Filipino farmers by further opening its doors to trade-liberalization through the ratification of the Rice Tariffication Law, in which I will discuss on the next article for this column.
To sum it all, under Piñol’s leadership in the Department of Agriculture, we see nothing but pure incompetence. It failed to address the concrete needs of Filipino farmers for land, appropriate technologies, or to say the least to fulfill his promise of sufficiency to our staple rice.
Piñol’s PR circus must stop, and his resignation is more than welcome. (davaotoday.com)