“Philippine agriculture needs to play a greater role in national development. The Duterte administration has laid the foundation for the country’s economic takeoff,” Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said, noting the 14 percent poverty reduction objective by 2022.

‘Financial aid to farmers to ensure food security’

July 08, 2019

“We all know the main problems in agriculture: lack of capital, lack of labor and the low yield. If we can address these issues, we can help the President put agriculture back in the national development plan and ensure an exponential increase in farmers’ income,” he said.

He said focus should be on agricultural research and extension services, and assistance to farmers in production and marketing, improved access of small farmers to credit and loan facilities from Land Bank of the Philippines and other lending institutions.

“If we want to reduce poverty, we need to find ways on how to increase the Filipino farmers’ income. We need to accelerate agricultural productivity, but this must translate to bigger take-home pay for those who till the soil,” stressed Romualdez, a leading candidate for speaker.

Romualdez prodded his fellow legislators to prioritize the passage of President Duterte’s pet bills that seek to increase farmers’ income and accelerate agricultural productivity, saying this will help cut poverty level by half before 2022.

“From Day One in office, President Duterte has made it clear that no one should be left behind in our journey of progress. The economic growth that we are experiencing must benefit our farmers, who comprise a majority of the population,” he said.

Romualdez made the remarks after President Duterte joined the inauguration of the Leyte rice processing plant of a couple whose business model promises to be “the national flagship for innovation in rice production.”

The rice processing plant of Chen Yi Agventures, owned by the husband-and-wife team of French-Italian Patrick Francois Renucci and Filipino-Chinese Rachel Renucci-Tan, is touted as one of the most technologically advanced post-harvest facilities in the Philippines.

It is located in Alangalang, Leyte about 30 kilometers south of Tacloban City, which is being developed as the country’s fifth largest rice producing area.

“This couple is leading the charge in rice revolution. Their firm is now a major producer that integrates seed growing, planting, farm management, harvesting and rice production in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Romualdez pointed out.

“This business model must be replicated throughout the country. The Renucci partnership program increased our farmers’ income ten-fold not through magic tricks. All it did was address the decades-old problems in agriculture such as the lack of seeds, high labor cost due to antiquated production methods and lack of post-harvest facilities,” he added.

Romualdez said the Alangalang experience must be studied by members of the 18th Congress and incorporated in an anti-poverty roadmap that may be jointly developed by the executive and legislative departments. - Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)

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