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Rice self-sufficiency goal stays

The Aquino administration is sticking to its drive for rice self-sufficiency, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a briefing.

The country’s agriculture chief said the Philippines, having achieved 96-percent food self-sufficiency from 82 percent in 2010, has saved P147 billion from import curbs between 2010 and 2013. Alcala said that as far as his agency was concerned, the drive would continue.

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“It’s no mean feat that instead of us changing pesos into dollars to pay other countries for their rice, our farmers are able to spend more on food, clothing, and education. We should encourage farmers even more. Let’s not raise the white flag on sufficiency,” Alcala said.

Alcala made the pronouncement when asked about any future rice imports and whether there was enough local supply. Alcala said it was up to the National Food Authority (NFA) to decide but that he believed there was enough inventory to cover the lean months. The NFA is under the purview of newly appointed Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. Besides the NFA, Pangilinan is also overseeing the National Irrigation Administration, the Philippine Coconut Authority, and the Fertilizer and the Pesticide Authority.

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