PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, officials of the agriculture department to discuss various concerns in the agriculture sector.
Among the matters discussed during the meeting were ways to address over production and oversupply, avoid spoilage and wastage of harvest and lower prices of agriculture products.
In order to avoid over production, Marcos urged the DA to come up with a data-driven information system in every planting season.
“It’s another part of data-driven decisions that we give to the farmers, the producers. Kung ano ang mabenta at this time, this season. So that hindi natin maririning ‘yung mga balita na nag-over produce, hindi mabenta, nabubulok na lang, pinamimigay na lang (So that we won't hear reports about over production, or the produce can't be sold, just rots, or given away),” he said.
Marcos said farmers, in particular, should be informed of ways in order for their products to gain more value.
Reportedly, tons of tomatoes and cabbage are being put to waste in the northern part of the country due to over production.
DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel presented to Marcos during the meeting his three-year plan to address such concerns and in order for the country to achieve food security.
Laurel raised the need for digitalization in the agriculture sector that will help farmers and fishers to make data-driven and efficient decisions for their day-to-day operations.
He said the Philippines will need P93 billion to establish post-harvest facilities in the next three years to save P10.7 billion worth of rice and corn for each year.
Laurel said the country is losing about 12.7 to 15 percent of its rice production due to lack of post-harvest facilities.
“Sa cold storage, my budget this year is only P1 billion, so ipo-focus ko lahat iyon sa apat na (so I will have it focused on the four) cold storage to address that vegetable issue -- but that can only cover part of Luzon,” he said.
“So, if we try to solve the problem as soon as possible, assuming 2025… I need additional P5 billion ‘no to address the vegetable cold storage issue of the whole nation. How to get the money… I’m still new at the government so I’m still trying to figure that out also,” he added.
Laurel said he visited the Food Terminal Inc. on Friday, January 12, to address the situation of vegetable oversupply.
He said the DA will be building 5,000 pallet position cold storage for high-value crops and vegetables, hoping that the facility will be available by June 2025.
“Kasi ang oversupply situation, while actually… to be honest, that is a matter na dapat ina-address din ng LGU because na-devolve na nga ang mga agricultural workers to the LGUs, so dapat sila nagpa-planning niyan, ng production and ano (which should also be addressed by the LGU because the agricultural workers have already been devolved to the LGUs, so they should be planning that, production, etc.). But, of course, the National Government like the DA should coordinate and plan with them to address this,” said Laurel.
Laurel said a post-harvest facility will soon be established in Dingras, Ilocos Norte and it will have a 120-metric-ton capacity.
He said the DA is also eyeing to build similar facilities in Concepcion, Tarlac; Dumangas, Iloilo; and Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon.
These initiatives are all part of the Masagana Agri-Food Infrastructure Modernization (Mafim) program of the National Food Authority that focuses on expanding agri-fishery areas for increased production, modernizing agri and fishery production systems and developing and improving post-harvest systems and infrastructure.
“We also have a very big move on the logistics -- 30 percent of our produce, especially of vegetables, is gone because of wastage, because of the poor logistics system in our food supply chain,” Laurel said.
“If we can lessen or hopefully almost eliminate iyong losses na iyon, that will be equivalent to at least 10 to 15 percent less cost sa ating mga vegetables and high-value crops like fruit,” he added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)