Increasing the income of farmers through higher productivity and food self-sufficiency may well prove to be the country’s long-term solution to the poverty problem.
The Philippines for many years has been one of the largest importers of rice as the country’s palay production remains insufficient to cover the local demand. The government through the Agriculture Department has long been aiming to increase rice production and eventually achieve rice self-sufficiency.
The DA in 2011 launched the Food Staples Sufficiency Program, which aims to achieve sufficiency in food staples and raising farmers’ income. The program covers rice and other staples, which can be alternative to rice, like corn, banana, cassava and sweet potato.
The program aims to achieve rice self-sufficiency at the end of this year and raise rice production to a total of 22.73 million metric tons by 2016.
“The FSSP defines self-sufficiency as the country’s ability to meet its national food requirements, while maintaining a buffer stock to be used in times of need. We are working to meet our per capita consumption of about 114 kilograms per person per year, given our population of about 99 million Filipinos,” said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
A rice self-sufficient Philippines will significantly reduce the country’s rice importation.
Alcala said the government had drastically trimmed its rice imports from a high of 2.4 million metric tons in 2010 to 860,000 metric tons in 2011 and 500,000 metric tons in 2012. Earlier last year, the DA imported 205,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam as buffer stock for the lean season.