BAGUIO CITY – The national government must not sacrifice the support for the sustained production of high value crops just to advance the robust production of rice and corn to help in improving the country’s state of agriculture, administration senatorial candidate and former Presidential adviser on agriculture development Francis Pangilinan said here recently.
The former two-term senator admitted that rice and corn has been the priority of the agriculture development which resulted to the deterioration of the production of high value crops, especially in the Cordillera which does not have the sufficient land area to compete with other major rice and corn producers in the country.
“The production of high value crops must not always remain in the back seat of the priorities of the agriculture department but it must always receive equitable support from the resources of government in order to advance one of the major sources of livelihood in the countryside,” Pangilinan stressed.
In terms of availability of resources, Pangilinan claimed the agriculture department could spare a chunk of its budget as support to improve the production of high value crops without sacrificing the support to rice and corn production which is one of the country’s major economic drivers.
On the part of the farmers, he encouraged them to embrace diversed farming through multi-cropping in order to be able to heed the demands of the market for high value crops.
According to him, it is high time for government to provide equitable treatment to both rice and corn production and the production of high value crops, especially in the highlands because of the absence of sufficient land area for them to shift to rice and corn production.
Pangilinan asserted that people in the agriculture sector must not be left behind in terms of government support because they are the ones providing Filipinos with food on the table.
He claimed most Filipinos have been used to mono-cropping which virtually failed to maximize the production potentials of agricultural farms both in the lowlands and highlands, thus, agriculture officials must revisit their priority programs in order to strike a balance between rice and corn production and the sustainable production of high value crops in order to uplift the living condition of high value crop farmers, especially those from the hinterlands of the Cordillera.
Aside from providing the adequate support for the robust growth of high value crops in the different parts of the region, Pangilinan added the agriculture department must continue sustaining the rehabilitation and upgrading of farm to market roads, irrigation facilities and post-harvest equipment that will ensure that the high value crops will remain fresh after being harvested and brought to the markets through appropriate cold chain facilities that must be put in place.
He said the proposed subsidy for farmers is still not feasible at this time because people have not yet matured in dealing with the support being extended by the government to them, thus, the need for them to be educated so that they will use the subsidy for their production and not for other personal uses that they deem necessary.
By Dexter A. See