NEGROS Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer and a group representing the sugar planters are backing the decision of incoming President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to temporarily lead the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Ferrer, who also led Marcos' campaign in the province during the recent elections, said the president-elect's decision to take the helm of the DA shows he is serious in working on his campaign promise that agriculture will be a priority agenda of his administration.

This, Ferrer said, will greatly benefit Negros Occidental in terms of food security and in their efforts to wipe out the insurgency in the province.

"We are hopeful that the much awaited reforms in the sugar industry, including the full implementation of the sugar roadmap and full utilization of the Sugar Industry Development Act fund will be realized," the vice governor said.

David Alba, representative of the Asociación de Agricultores de La Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. (AALCPI), the biggest independent sugar producers’ group in the country, also echoed Ferrer's sentiment.

The incoming president’s decision speaks highly of the importance he gives on food security and poverty alleviation, Alba said.

They expressed confidence that under Marcos' leadership, the department can transform the country's agriculture and in time make it less reliant on food imports.

"We, in the sugar industry, have been unfairly labeled as a sunset industry. But we are confident that with him [Marcos] at the helm, we can achieve self-sufficiency and even become a net exporter of agricultural products," Alba said.

He also said that they are looking forward to working with the incoming president in rebuilding the agriculture sector.