President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced on Monday, June 20, that he will head the Department of Agriculture (DA) in a concurrent capacity to take a proactive stance versus a looming food crisis.
“Agriculture is vital to our food security, and surveys would tell us that some countries are already food insecure due to the resurgence of many problems caused by war and the high cost of crude and gasoline. The president is the best person to take care of this sector as the power to decide is with him,” Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer said.
“We hope he will recognize the threats of ever-increasing fuel and fertilizer prices being faced by our farmers, and that he will institutionalize programs which can help secure the agricultural sector and the sugar industry’s sustainability for the benefit of thousands of marginal farmers,” Enrique Rojas, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) president, said.
The NFSP hopes that Marcos will appreciate the sugar industry’s contributions in sustaining the country’s economy during the pandemic, he added.
When Marcos was governor of Ilocos Norte he boosted rice and corn yields in his province, and as senator he also authored bills which supported agriculture, Rojas said.
“With his experience, incoming President Marcos can readily recognize and immediately act on the problems which have been besetting agriculture for many decades,” Rojas added.
“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,” Marcos said in a press statement.
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.
Marcos 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,” 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, ” Marcos said.*