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More focus on small-scale farming urged

Instead of prioritizing big-scale farming and importation, the government should exert efforts to bolster the productivity of small-scale farmers to increase food production in the Philippines.

“We should put an emphasis and prioritize local production, especially smallholders. To date, the country has 10 million small-scale farmers,” said senatorial aspirant Loren Legarda during the online forum dubbed Halalan 2022 Para sa Agrikultura.

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Some of the interventions the government can provide include providing support that would reduce production costs, improving market competitiveness and increasing funds for crop insurance and lending programs with lower rates.

Legarda said the government is equipped with adequate resources and tools to boost domestic food production and reduce reliance on food imports.

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“It seems our long-standing policy is large-scale importation of agricultural products. Why is that so? The country is blessed with vast land and water resources. It is important for our country to focus on providing the needs of small-scale agriculture,” said Legarda, who is House deputy speaker and Antique representative.

Aside from that, Legarda cited the need for conducting more studies to give a boost to the essential agriculture sector. “[We need] to make our farmers’ communities more disaster-resilient, to use innovation and research and development in improving their conditions.”

She also pitched providing supplemental income for farmers on top of giving mechanization support and free seeds.

Meanwhile, when it comes to rising fuel prices, Legarda proposed the adoption of renewable energy technologies such as solar. “We need to transition from imported fossil fuel that is bad for our pockets and the environment.”

The Department of Agriculture had said it was expecting another “record harvest” this year amid losses caused by Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai).

Philippine Integrated Rice Program Director Dionisio Alvindia had said that based on initial estimates, palay production could reach at least 19.95 million metric tons in 2021. INQ

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