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Legarda: Help Farmers Adapt to Climate Change, Achieve Rice Self-Sufficiency

November 25, 2012

IN LIGHT OF NOVEMBER BEING NATIONAL RICE AWARENESS MONTH, SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA REITERATED HER CALL FOR 100 PERCENT RICE SELF-SUFFICIENCY THROUGH PUBLIC AWARENESS AND GOVERNMENT INCENTIVES AND SUPPORT.
“Irrigation, high-yield seeds and modern post-harvest facilities are badly needed if the Philippines is to achieve 100 percent rice sufficiency. By providing incentives and support, the government would entice more Filipino farmers who had shifted to high-value crops to plant rice anew,” she explained.
“This National Rice Awareness Month, we should look into providing farmers post-harvest equipment and facilities like threshers and grain dryers in order to reduce their production cost and lessen grain losses,” she said.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, also said that the scarcity of rice supply is being made worse by climatic factors like prolonged dry spell and, on the opposite side, floods, which is why attention must be paid to climate resilience in farming regions.
“Crop yield potential is estimated to decline by 19% in Asia toward the end of the century and rice yield in the Philippines would decline by 75%. These alarming figures alone tell us that the country’s agricultural adaptation program must ensure more investments in agricultural research and infrastructure, improved water governance and land use policies, better forecasting tools and early warning systems, a strengthened extension system that will assist farmers to achieve economic diversification and access to credit to make significant improvements in our food security goals,” she remarked.
The Senator also noted that the Department of Agriculture’s current “Sapat na Bigas, Kaya ng Pinas!” campaign, which urges Filipinos to try equally nutritious food such as white corn, sweet potato, cassava, and banana as rice substitutes, as well as brown rice, is of great help to the goal.
“President Aquino has declared 2013 as the National Year of Rice. This is a chance for us to step up, as the Philippines must endeavor to meet its own rice requirements without resorting to importation, and, having done that, to aim to become a rice exporter,” Legarda concluded.