The Department of Agriculture is set to unveil next week its strategy to modernize agriculture and boost the farm sector’s production capacity and contribution to the domestic economy, especially in improving the lives of farmers and fisherfolk as well as creating more jobs, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. announced on Tuesday.
Speaking at the agency’s weekly flag ceremony, Laurel rallied the DA employees to focus on the challenge of producing more food for Filipinos even as the country faces a prolonged dry spell in the first part of the year.
“2024 is a new year and it will be a very challenging year. As I told you last time, all eyes are trained on us, more on me probably because I’m the new agriculture secretary,” Tiu Laurel said. “The entire country expects that we could feed them and that we will try to bring commodity prices down.”
Tiu Laurel enjoined DA employees to stay focused on the goal of modernizing the country’s agriculture sector to achieve food security and lessen agricultural imports. “We can do this. But I need your help, I need your full cooperation for the DA to achieve its goals.”
Since taking the helm of the agriculture portfolio in November, Tiu Laurel has visited various DA offices around the country. He broke ground and inaugurated new irrigation and other facilities, and consulted local officials, farmers, fisherfolk and other agriculture stakeholders to determine a better course of action and gather support to achieve President Ferdinand Marcos’ vision of a modern farm sector and better lives for farmers and fishermen.
Tiu Laurel also spoke of the need for more timely farm and market statistics, adaption of new technologies, and farm mechanization.
“Very soon, we will have that program – possibly in the next 10 days – that we will cascade to everyone,” he said.
Tiu Laurel reminded DA employees to work with urgency given the challenges faced by the sector, including this year’s El Nino episode, and the time left in President Marcos’ single six-year term.
“Basically, a lot of things need to be done. We need to do this with a sense of urgency because there are only four years left in the administration of President Marcos. And we also have to change the perception of Filipinos, that we can produce more food for our country,” he said.
By producing more locally, the Philippines could dramatically narrow a yawning agricultural trade deficit that in 2022 total USD11.8 billion, around P660 billion, or four times the budget of the DA in 2024.
Money paid for by consumers for imported agricultural commodities could go instead to the pockets of farmers and fisherfolk, and fuel investment in the agriculture sector that employs four in every 10 Filipinos. By OSEC-Comms