The Philippines is an agricultural country where 35% of its population is engaged in farming as a main source of livelihood. Ironically, the country is the biggest importer of rice in the world, and its corn production is not sufficient for local consumption. In fact, in the year 2009 alone, the country had imported 1,777,378,649 metric tons of rice and 303,148,863 metric tons of corn in the total amount of US$952,740,091.00 and US$95,153,146.00, respectively, which contributed to the depletion of the dollar reserves of the country.
The above unfortunate situation is further compounded by the burgeoning population with an annual growth at 2.04%. With the land area of only four (4) million hectares used for rice production in the Philippines, and this area is decreasing in big number in favor of certain industries, subdivisions, commercial establishment and other purposes, the government should take immediate and effective measures geared towards improving the yield of the farmers to ensure accessibility and affordability of rice, corn and similar farm products for all Filipinos. Studies show that 35% of the total yield increase will be attributed to the use of high quality seeds.
The enactment of Republic Act No. 7308, known as the “Seeds Industry Development Act of 1992”, was a monumental step towards increasing farm productivity by developing and propagating quality seeds. However, it did not contain a proviso for a compulsory mass production of seeds for the farmers. To date, while the government has adopted a program to procure quality seeds for the farmers, it has never been as comprehensive as it should be and its volume and coverage, as well as its implementation are more matters of policy in the leadership rather than in pursuance to a well-defined enactment.
It is precisely to address this need that we have filed Senate Bill No. 2418, which seeks to propose the enactment of a National Seeds Production Act. We hope that the establishment of a seeds production program will greatly enhance farm productivity by providing the farmers with high quality, affordable seeds, including hybrid ones, as well as the needed technical and other support services. It is in furtherance of the thrusts of the government to attain self-sufficiency of rice and corn production by the year 2013.