Attaining food sufficiency level in the country within his stewardship as agriculture secretary is the greatest accomplishment that Secretary Proceso J. Alcala is dreaming of.
This he revealed during the news conference with the local media in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur during his visit in Caraga Region recently.
“Ang pinakamalaki pong significant na program ay talaga pong if we reach the self sufficiency level, ito ay napakalaki pong accomplishment”, thus he said.
According to him he considered attaining food sufficiency as the biggest accomplishment not just for himself but for the whole country as well.
He said that for the long period of time, Philippines have not been sufficient in rice.
Historically, on later part of 1970’s Philippines had been sufficient in rice during the leadership of former Secretary Arturo Tanco, Jr. through the Masagana 99 rice production program and even went into exporting rice.
A similar program on corn also made the country self-sufficient in white corn.
In 1990 during the time of Secretary Senen Bacani, he implemented the Rice Action Program (RAP) and Corn Production Enhancement Program (CPEP) enabling the Philippines to once again export rice in 1992 and attained self-sufficiency in corn, respectively.
However, Alcala said those achievements were not sustained.
“Kaya ngayon naging maingat tayo na if we will reach self-sufficiency ng ating palay production ito po’y hindi na aatras kundi ito’y tuloy-tuloy (That is why nowadays,if we will reach self-sufficiency of our rice production it will not detour but will head on), he said.
Alcala further said that currently they are making plans and projections on how to export excess rice after 2013.
In recognizing the potential of the province of Surigao del Sur to contribute to the attainment of sufficiency target, Secretary Alcala suggested to come up a master development plan for the whole province on agricultural sector that would focus on what commodities could be aggressively pushed.
Moreover, he said the agriculture department would push for the modernization of farm equipments not only on irrigation but for other necessary farm implements.
He also urged farmers and irrigators association to strengthen since government assistance would be coursed through them to make them more empowered.
As he stated, organized and strong farmers and irrigators association could be assisted through the provision of mechanical dryers and rice mill.
He also urged agriculture stakeholders to include idle lands and marine resources in boosting food production so as to contribute more to the attainment of food sufficiency not just on rice but also other staple foods for the Filipinos. (AURELL P. ARAIS/RAFID DA CARAGA)