Laurel readies ‘massive’ agri efficiency drive
MANILA -The Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday it will embark on a massive program that utilizes technology to improve rice production and reduce postharvest losses.
Agriculture Secretary Francisco Laurel Jr. said the agency will launch a massive modernization program to increase rice recovery after milling from 62 percent and lessen wastage after harvest.
The DA is yet to provide additional details about this undertaking but Laurel said they are banking on science and technology to eventually attain food sufficiency.
“We just have to focus our efforts and synchronize with each other in implementing our rice programs with all agencies, local government units, and stakeholders,” Laurel said.
“The dream of being rice sufficient is achievable. We just have to work in harmony,” he added.
The DA is also planning to bring in more employees and scientists to work at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), a government corporate entity created under the DA tasked to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies.
Currently, PhilRice has 297 personnel and employs 1,500 as contractual workers, many of them highly capable in their respective fields.
Amid efforts to scale up domestic output, the country’s rice self-sufficiency plummeted to 77 percent in 2022 from 81.5 percent the previous year, based on the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The same data noted the self-sufficiency ratio (SSR) for rice has been on a downtrend for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022. The SSR indicates the extent to which local production can meet the country’s requirements.
The DA was hopeful rice self-sufficiency rate would bounce back this year to 85 to 87 percent, owing to lower farm input costs and greater harvest area.
The country produced 3.79 million metric tons (MT) of rice in the third quarter of 2023, slightly up by 0.21 percent, according to the PSA.
Any balance is met through importation. The Philippines has procured 2.93 million MT of imported rice, mainly from Vietnam, based on the Bureau of Plant Industry’s data as of Nov. 16. INQ