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Marcos' 'political will' can reform agri sector, says group

Agriculture group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) on Tuesday said they believe President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong"  Marcos Jr.'s "political will" can help reform the agriculture sector.

"More on political will, ito ang nakikita natin [this is what we’re seeing]," SINAG president Rosendo So told Balitanghali when asked on what would Marcos need to effectively implement policies in the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Noting the "severe problem" currently hounding the agriculture sector, Marcos on Monday said he would temporarily head the DA when his administration takes over on June 30.

So, during the Balitanghali interview, said Marcos' "willingness" to help the agriculture sector would send a positive message to the private sector.

"Ang private sector, kapag nakita 'yung willingness ng ating presidente na tumulong sa ating sector, automatic magi-invest 'yan," So said.

(If the private sector sees the President's willingness to help the sector, they will invest in it automatically.)

SINAG welcomed Marcos' decision but warned that he would be facing a "gargantuan task" in fixing the agriculture sector as this would include getting rid of the corruption within the industry, addressing the alleged overpricing of seeds and smuggling, and the proliferation of fake fertilizers in the market.

So reiterated that boosting local production will help the Philippines achieve food security.

"Hindi solusyon ang importation. Local production pa rin ang nakikita nating makakatulong na [local production is still the] long-term solution,” he added.

Outgoing Agriculture Secretary William Dar has warned of a looming food crisis brought about by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising fuel prices, and the global economic impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Food summit

Meanwhile, the Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (AGAP) party-list said Marcos should hold a food security summit to address the current issues in the country’s agriculture industry.

“Ang kailangan siguro kaagad magpatawag siya ng isang food security summit…at ang mga kailangan katulad ng paglalagay ng tamang pondo, pagpigil sa smuggling, at syempre ‘yung sobra-sobrang importation na nagpapahirap sa sektor ng agrikultura,” said AGAP first-nominee Nicanor Briones in a radio interview.

(What he needs to do is to call for a food security summit.. among those that needed to be discussed are the allocation of correct funds for the sector and putting an end to smuggling and importation.)

He said AGAP welcomes the decision of Marcos to head DA as it “proves” the president-elect’s “seriousness” in resolving the country’s agricultural woes.

Briones reiterated the government should focus on local production and not importation, especially due to the looming ban of other countries on their products including India which recently prohibited exporting wheat.

“Mali 'yung policy na import liberalization na sinusunod ni Dar, ‘yung mga economic managers. Ang iniisip nila basta nag-import magkakaroon ng sapat na pagkain ang mga Pilipino,” he said.

(The import liberalization policy that Agriculture Secretary William Dar and economic managers follow is wrong. They think that once we import, there will be enough food for Filipinos.)

"Ang dapat tutukan nila ano bang dahilan bakit tayo nagkukulang ng pagkain (They should focus on why there's a shortage of food)," he added.

He also called on the incoming President to create a roadmap for every sector before passing the DA leadership to the next secretary.

“Gumawa muna ng roadmap bawat sector. Kapag naayos niya, maglagay ng mapagkakatiwalaan niya na may malasakit at pagmamahal sa nasa sektor ng agrikultura,” he said.

(A roadmap for every sector must be created first. Once it’s settled, he should appoint someone who has genuine care for those in the agriculture sector.)—KBK/AOL, GMA News