June 13, 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte expressed belief the Philippines would no longer be rice self-sufficient as farm lands are being used for cash crops instead of food crops.
In a speech in Malacanang, Duterte said there could come a time the country would just have to rely on rice imports.
"If you'd ask me, in the next how many years, we will just have to import rice. I do not believe that we can be rice sufficient," he said.
Duterte said the target of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol to be rice self-sufficient by 2020 was just a "story."
He said land have been eaten up by the cash crops.
"With the advent of the coming of cash crop instead of the food crop, we now lack land and even to really satisfy or do we have the resources to answer for the food of the Filipino," he explained.
Duterte recalled he had to "cut some powers of Cabinet members for just being shortsighted or jumping into others' territory, turf war."<
He was apparently referring to Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. who used to head the National Food Authority Council.
Duterte removed Evasco as chairman of NFA Council and brought back NFA to the Department of Agriculture after he and NFA chief Jason Aquino quarreled on whether to import rice as NFA stock dwindled.
Aquino's proposal to import 250,000 metric tons of rice prevailed over Evasco's. The Cabinet Secretary had said there was no need to import because there was no shortage, particularly of commercial rice.
Duterte had ordered the importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam.
According to Pinol, imported rice just started to arrive this week. Celerina Monte/DMS
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