Pres Marcos Jr. Addresses Agriculture Challenges in Pampanga

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel Jr. recently convened with farmers, local government leaders, and officials of the Department of Agriculture in Pampanga to address the challenges posed by El Niño and to sustain the push for agricultural modernization and increased food production. The gathering, which took place in a rice field in Candaba, showcased the cutting-edge technology of rice combine harvesters, a machinery example that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been distributing to farmers. This initiative aims to reduce costs, improve farm productivity, and ultimately raise incomes.

President Marcos expressed his optimism that this occasion would serve as a catalyst for the continued growth not only of the rice industry but the entire agricultural sector in the coming months. He shared the remarkable success of the agriculture sector in the previous year, highlighting the record-breaking harvest of more than 20 million metric tons of unhusked rice in 2023. This achievement was attributed to the DA’s distribution of improved rice seeds and fertilizers, which contributed to a 1.5 percent increase in rice production.

Despite the accomplishments of the previous year, President Marcos acknowledged the challenge posed by the prolonged dry spell caused by El Niño. However, he assured the attendees that interventions were already underway to mitigate its impact. In the long run, the government plans to distribute more solar-powered irrigation systems to provide a steady supply of water to an additional 180,000 hectares of rice land. This initiative is projected to yield 1.2 million metric tons of palay, further reducing the country’s dependence on imported rice.

To support the efforts to increase food production, the government has allocated P31 billion this year for the DA’s national rice program. This funding will be utilized for post-harvest facilities, extension services, research and development, and irrigation services. The distribution of rice harvesters is part of the projects financed by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, which received a budget of P10 billion this year. The Rice Fund aims to promote the productivity and competitiveness of rice farmers by providing machinery and equipment, rice seeds, extension services, and credit assistance.

During the event in Candaba, President Marcos personally led the distribution of more than P22 million worth of farm inputs and equipment, including rice seeds, fertilizer vouchers, post-harvest facilities, and financial capital. These resources were provided to farmers’ cooperatives and for hog repopulation, addressing the adverse impact of the African Swine Fever on the industry. Notable allocations included a P5 million warehouse with a mechanical dryer, P11 million assistance for two hog repopulation programs, P1 million for the working capital of two farmer groups, P3 million for multi-purpose cooperative working capital and funds for the purchase of hauling trucks, and P1.3 million for the distribution of certified rice seeds.

Agriculture Secretary Tiu Laurel emphasized that the Department of Agriculture is working diligently to increase farm production, particularly in rice, despite the threat of a prolonged dry spell due to El Niño. Their goal is to ensure that the country remains food secure.

In conclusion, the meeting between President Marcos, Agriculture Secretary Tiu Laurel, farmers, and government officials in Pampanga highlighted the government’s commitment to agricultural modernization and increased food production. By distributing cutting-edge machinery, providing financial assistance, and implementing various initiatives, the government aims to enhance farm productivity, reduce costs, and ultimately improve the livelihoods of farmers. Despite the challenges posed by El Niño, interventions are being implemented to mitigate its impact and ensure the country’s food security in the long run.


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