Sorry to say for the past many years our government particularly the Department of Agriculture failed on its mission because it has no vision. This department is only good on press releases. The tariffication law passed by congress is not much help. The promised farm machineries, post harvest facilities and other vowed support to farmers came in trickle. Economic managers are going on short cuts by importing the grain. Even Secretary Ben Diokno and National Economic Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan are proposing to cut to 10% the tariff on imported rice. Eh, papatayin na talaga ang mga magsasaka niyan. Imagine more than billion population of China against our more than 100 million yet we import a bigger volume than them.

They should shift strategies above the current events in other countries. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who took over the agriculture department as a result, he will be exclusively facing numerous challenges. Our country should have enough food locally produced and not dependent on importations. (Pwera sa bigas, sibuyas, kamatis, bawang hanggang sa galunggong ay binibili pa sa ibang bansa. Hanep).

Points to ponder. I grew up in an agricultural town of Porac. The town is the largest in Pampanga and in my youth and up until now it is sparsely populated. Large areas were planted to sugar, palay and some vegetables then. Few meters away from our house was the beautiful deep Porac river. That portion of the Porac- Gumain river continues to flow passing through Florida Blanca town till today. During those years it was by my estimate to be 15 feet deep and all the kids in town learned to swim there.

Porac’s resident depended largely from it vast agricultural lands. Hectares after hectares dotted the roads going to Florida Blanca . Second largest was its rice fields. Farmers in those years were simply happy and contented in whatever decent incomes they get from the soil. I remember farmers who sold their palay to the only rice mill in our town owned by my cousin the late Servillana Lumanlan David. After getting paid for their produce, some proceeded to my mother’s carinderia which was just across the street and got their fill there. I heard many of their stories. They talked mostly of their tenancy problems but nonetheless happy with the support from agencies of government.

If today you hear rice farmers complaining regarding the farm gate price of palay, it is because of the enactment of the rice tarrification law which allowed the unlimited importation of rice by both government and the private sectors. It’s so ridiculous. Apparently the move wasn’t carefully studied. It adversely affected the agri sector. Government people make a bundle on rice importation. Let’s look back in the early years when government provided support and services to Filipino farmers. senior members of our society will remember this. In the early years, there was the ACCFA ( I just can’t recall what the acronym means, but it has something to do with agriculture credit). Then there was FACOMA , meaning Farmers Cooperative Marketing Association. It was an agency designed to sell in the market the farmers’ produce to the market to eliminate middlemen. The third agency was the NAMARCO, and it means National Marketing Corporation. It is tasked by government to sell grocery products and other household items to farmers in a much much reduced prices. Farmers were happy.

When Duterte was president he spoke the language of the poor, even the gutter and venomous street language, thus identifying himself to common folks. He was popular with the men in the uniform services ( he doubled their salaries) but not with the farmers. Duterte was not a friend of the farmers. The truth was the farmers were sad because seemingly he really didn't about their welfare. He wouldn’t know how a simple farmer has been wanting to be given farm equipment, subsidies like seeds , fertilizer and technical support. Look around when you travel through the SCTEX and many highways all over the country. Be curious and try looking if you can find any farm equipment on the fields on both sides of the road. Hanggang ngayon ang palay binibilad sa kakarsadahan. Biglang init ang sikat ng araw, biglang uulan malakas.