DA urges private sector to invest in food sufficiency program

THE Department of Agriculture is encouraging more private sector partners to support the Aquino government’s program to attain sufficiency in rice and other food staples by the end of 2013.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the private sector can consider investing in grains handling and processing, and farm services outsourcing that could result in more efficient rice production, lesser post-harvest losses, and more profitable operations.

He made the call at a June 27 rice industry forum, at the Banco De Oro (BDO) corporate headquarters, in Makati City, where he presented the Aquino administration’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP). The forum was attended by top officials of BDO, Land Bank of the Philippines, and rice industry agribusinessmen.

“We can minimize post harvest losses in palay that reaches over 1 million tons per year if we have enough drying facilities. We can make palay production a lot cheaper, more efficient, and more convenient for farmers if we have enough farm machineries in place,” Secretary Alcala said.

He also encouraged bankers and financial institutions to invest in affordable and broad-based credit.

“Bawa’t magsasaka ay nangangailangan ng financing.  Mas epektibong magpahiram ang pribadong sektor kaysa sa gobyerno.  The Agri-Agra Law exists as a source of sound financial services for the agriculture. Panahon na upang gawing bankable ang pagsasaka at ang mga magsasaka,” he added.

The DA chief also called for more investments in expanded rice trading and exports, when the country eventually achieves sufficiency by 2014 and beyond.

“Let us do the groundwork now, as the Philippines aims to become a major agri-fishery trader in Asia,” he said.

He also urged the private sector to invest in outsourcing farm services.

“We are looking forward to the day when farm chores and services — like field preparation, paddy diking, input purchasing, harvesting and processing and marketing — may be outsourced or contracted out to workers who are not necessarily from the same farm or locality,” he said.

“After all, among food distributors like supermarkets, the practice of contracting the fresh produce that they will sell in their outlets has already started to take root,” he added.

“Let us unite in believing that we are all winners when we produce, process and distribute enough food, and ensure increased incomes for our food producers and industry workers,” Secretary Alcala said.

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