Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos lauded the Duterte Administration for fast tracking rice importation that will ensure abundant supply and cheaper prices of the commodity.
“The inflow of the fourth quarter palay harvest will further increase supply to put a brake on the price spiral of rice until the first quarter of 2019,” she said.
She believes, however, that “palliative solutions and seasonal upticks in rice production offer only temporary relief” from high prices.
“Panandaliang aliw lang ito,” she said, “Kung mangyari uli, dapat handa tayo. [“It is just short-term comfort. If it happens again, we should be ready.”] We need long term solutions to protect our people, especially the poor who constitute more than 75% of our population, from the inflationary shocks of high food prices in the future,” she added.
“Food abundance must be our goal – food supply must be more than sufficient to keep food prices within easy reach,” she explained. “Sapat at murang pagkain para sa bawa’t pamilyang Pilipino ang dapat nating atupagin”, she declared. [“We all must work to attain cheap and sufficient food for every Filipino family.”]
Gov. Marcos believes that the key is sustained high agricultural productivity, complemented by efficient distribution and marketing systems with the needed agri-infrastructure support, and rationalized food importation policies and strategies.
“Masaganang mga bukid ang siguruhin natin. [Abundant farms must be our priority.] We must provide full support to farmers from farm implements, seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, farm to market roads and credit facilities. They must be able to quickly sell their products in the market at fair prices. We also need to step up agri research to help farmers produce high yielding crops,” she said.
She laments that in the past two decades, IRRI produced high yielding strains of rice but these were not distributed to farmers to help them increase their earnings.
“This is why we poured local government support to farmers in Ilocos Norte, including the needed infrastructure,” she said. “We buy rice directly from the farms at the right price and sell them at the same price in our Kadiwa stores.”
“If the Ilocos Norte provincial government can do it, we can do it in other provinces as well. Let’s make agriculture great again!”
The Governor also called for policy reforms in food importation including loosening up the graft-prone control of NFA over rice importation that brought about the evils of hoarding and high prices.