With the growing population and shrinking agricultural lands, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said the rice self-sufficiency target may not be achieved before his term ends in 2020.
“I do not believe that we can be rice sufficient,” Duterte said in his speech during the signing of memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Commission on Higher Education, 112 state universities and colleges and 78 local universities at Malacanang Palace.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol had earlier made projection that the country will achieve rice self-sufficiency in the year 2020.
“What (Agriculture Secretary Manny) Piñol said at the years’ end, that was only a story,” Duterte said in jest.
“If you’d ask me, in the next how many years, we will just have to import rice,” he said.
Duterte said Mindanao, his home region, was used to be the country’s breadbasket but the advent of cash crop instead of the food crop has been reducing farm lands.
“Because in Mindanao, the choice lands there were eaten up by the cash crop guys,” he said.
He said the decades-long conflict in Mindanao has also been affecting the food production.
“Should there (be) no wars, Mindanao could really (be) properly cultivated. Mindanao could supply the food that we are going to eat. If we cannot solve the problem in time, we will have problem,” Duterte said.
Duterte is hoping that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed in Congress to open the door for lasting peace in Mindanao.
“I know in the coming days, I hope the BBL, however fractured it may be to the others, we will see the light of the day and just maybe reserve the portion that are with issues during the Constitutional convention,” he said. (PNA)
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