COMMITTED to ensuring food sufficiency in the country, incoming President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday has decided to take the top agriculture post at least for the time being.
The move is seen as Marcos taking a proactive stance to avert or at least mitigate the possible effects of a looming food crisis caused by various external events and factors.
“As to agriculture, I think the problem is severe enough that I decided to take on the portfolio of Secretary of Agriculture, at least for now, and at least until we can re-organize the Department of Agriculture in a way that can make it ready for the next years to come,” he said.
He noted that due to outside forces that are impacting food supply, as well as other agriculture components like feeds, fertilizers and others, there will be a shortage and an increase in food prices in the next quarters.
He underscored the need to come up with a well-grounded plan of action that would enable the government to do more than merely respond when an emergency occurs.
“In the Philippines, we have been able to adjust to the situation in terms of the importations from Ukraine and Russia. But these emergency measures that we have taken will not be sufficient in the long run. That’s why we have to plan in a more thorough fashion than just responding. I have asked the DTI, NEDA, and, of course, the DOF and DBM. I have asked them all to start to make forecasts, economic forecasts on what we would have to face for the rest of this year so that we can prepare,” he said.
In assuming the DA post, Marcos explained that aside from sending a clear message that his administration is giving a high priority to agriculture, it would also speed up the development of the sector, which is urgently needed for the country to achieve food sufficiency.
“We are going back to basics and we will rebuild the value-chain of agriculture. And that is why I think it’s important that the President take that portfolio so that, not only will we make it clear to everyone, what a high priority we put on the agricultural sector, but also as a practical matter so that things will move quickly because the events of the global economy are moving very quickly, ” he said.
“We have to be agile. We have to be able to respond properly in a very measured way as soon as there is a situation that needs to be addressed,” he added.
One of his commitments during the campaign was the development of the country’s agricultural sector to achieve food sufficiency, noting that one of the lessons taught by the Covid19 pandemic was the country’s lack of sufficient food supply when importation is removed as an option.