By Ryan Ponce Pacpaco | Journal News Online
PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr., recently said he intends to pursue a holistic approach to develop the country’s long-suffering agriculture sector.
In a radio interview over FMR Tacloban, Marcos sees the need to enhance the agriculture system to provide better lives for farmers heavily impacted by the Covid19 pandemic.
The Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer said that his holistic approach would invest heavily in research and establish programs to assist farmers until post-harvest production. He added that these programs would complement each other, resulting in a sustainable and viable agriculture sector.
“Malaking sistema ang agrikultura at kailangan nating buoin ulit ‘yan para maging mas maganda ang buhay ng ating mga magsasaka. Ang tulong na mabibigay ng gobyerno ay ang magbuo ng sistema ‘gaya ng meron tayo noon,” Marcos said.
Recalling the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the 1960s, Marcos said research is the first step in improving the agriculture sector. Researchers will find other crops that can withstand the changing weather and different ways to help farmers as they are the most affected sector during calamities.
After research, Marcos said loan packages through farm inputs and technological support must be readily available.
“Yung binhi, fertilizer, pesticide, lahat ‘yan ay dapat makabili ang gobyerno ng marami para makamura tapos kasama ‘yun sa production loan. Hindi naman dapat kumita ang gobyerno kaya maibibigay nila ng mas mura ,” Marcos said.
In 1973, late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. created a program called ‘Masagana 99′ to help farmers by providing technology packages of high-yielding rice varieties and low-cost pesticides and fertilizers. The program aims to solve the rice shortage crisis.
Marcos said the Masagana 99 and first lady Imelda Marcos’ project Kadiwa are systematic programs that benefited the farmers and the consumers.
“Meron tayong sistema noon. Meron tayong Masagana 99 for high production, merong IRRI (International Rice Research Institute), meron tayong NFA (National Food Authority) na ini-stabilize yung presyo ng palay at mais,” Marcos said.
“Yung technical support para sa mga farmer, kailangan na kailangan natin ‘yan so dapat maglagay tayo ng sistema na may technical support. Meron naman tayo ngayon pero siguro palawakin natin. ‘Yung tinatawag na techno demo (or) technical demonstration kung saan yung mga scientist, pupunta mismo sa mga magsasaka at tuturuan sila ng bagong teknik kung ano yung bagong produkto na pwedeng gamitin,” he said.
Marcos said the government must also furnish large-scale milling and dryer machines to help farmers improve and increase their productivity.
He said this system of giving loans and assisting farmers in their harvest and the post-harvest process is what he did as the governor of Ilocos Norte.
“’Yun ang aming ginawa sa Ilocos Norte. Ang aming ginawa ay nagtabi ako ng pondo, ‘yun ang ginamit namin na pang production loan. Bumili kami ng maraming pesticide, maraming fertilizer, lahat ‘yan at ‘yun ang sinama namin sa production loan. Ang pambayad ng farmer, hindi pera, pambayad nila palay. So ‘yung palay, nung provincial governor ako, tinatabi ‘yan tapos pinoprocess sa malalaking milling machine,” he said.
“Tapos nun, ginawa kong trader yung probinsiya, nagpa-accredit ako na trader ‘yung probinsiya. Kami ang nagbebenta ng bigas, ‘yung kinita na pagbenta sa bigas, balik sa pondo para sa susunod na planting season,” he explained.
By following a systemized process, Marcos said farmers could earn more as the value-added of the agricultural product will go straight to them. It will also create a robust livelihood and resilient farming system.
Marcos sees the need to improve further the agriculture sector, which showed its weakness when the pandemic hit the country.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that agriculture production declined to 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2021.
“Balikan natin ang agrikultura, patibayin natin ulit kasi ang katotohanan diyan napagiwanan, napabayaan ang agrikultura sa Pilipinas kaya’t kailangang balikan,” he said.