BBM tackles food shortage

Sets marching orders in first meeting with DA execs

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued a flurry of marching orders to officials of the Department of Agriculture, with focus on policies to address a looming food crisis which he said could hit the country “in the next two quarters.”

FIRST DAY HIGHS. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. beams at the staff at Malacanang as he attends the first flag ceremony at the Palace since becoming Chief Executive on Monday. Later, he hands over a plaque of appreciation from incoming Presidential Security Group chief Col. Ramon P. Zagala to outgoing PSG boss BGen Randolph G. Cabangbang, then leads the first Executive Committee Meeting of the Department of Agriculture under his leadership (lowermost photo). Presidential Photos

Marcos, who personally heads the DA portfolio, met with the agency’s officials Monday.

“We have to attend to the impending food crisis. It seems that it’ll be visiting us in the next two quarters. When we look around the world, everyone is preparing for it. We are already at a disadvantageous position in terms of food supply,” he said during the closed-door meeting.

“Even with the problem of pork and chicken, we have to think very hard that people have sufficient food, number one, at the price they can afford. It’s useless to have food if they cannot afford it,” Marcos added.

In May, the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. warned food shortage may happen within the year as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to affect food and raw material prices in the world market.

“We have to increase our production and we have to talk about the ways that we can do it,” Marcos said.

The President directed the DA officials to submit their proposed executive orders, including a possible measure seeking a supplementary budget from Congress.

“Do not be hesitant to make it [proposal] multi-year. I don’t believe you can do this in one year or in three years,” he said.

Marcos likewise ordered the DA to submit a list of pros and cons on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP)—a free-trade agreement among the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its partners, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

“The programs we talked about, just give me a baseline of what has been done so that I would know the programs you have been working on,” the President said.

Marcos Jr. also instructed the DA to “operationalize” Masagana 150 and Masagana 200—two proposed programs named after the Masagana 99 rice production program during the administration of his father, Ferdinand Sr.

Masagana 150 seeks to produce 7.5 tons of inbred rice per hectare at P8.38 per kilogram (kg), to allow farmers to earn at least P50,000 per hectare.

Masagana 200, on the other hand, seeks a yield of 10 tons of hybrid rice per hectare at a production cost of P7.82 per kilogram so that farmers can earn at least P70,000 per hectare.

“These are good plans that we have to put in place. Let’s operationalize them already,” Marcos said.

He also broached the possibility of “remaking” Kadiwa stores to make them more responsive to the times.

“On the longer term, we really have to reconstruct our value chain all the way from our scientists all the way to our Kadiwa stores,” he said. “We have to remake that model. It’s a very different world out there because of the technology [but] the concept is still going to be similar.”

Meanwhile, after his meeting at the DA headquarters, Marcos attended the change of command ceremony of the Presidential Security Group.

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala assumed command of the PSG. He will also serve as Marcos’ senior military assistant in concurrent capacity.

“What you are guarding is not only the personages of the First Family, but you are guarding and keeping safe an institution, the institution of Presidency,” Marcos said in his speech.

“Because should you fail in your mission, that institution will collapse and the effects on our country will be dire. That is why we only pick the best men and women that we have within our military to join the Presidential Security Group,” he added.

Marcos thanked Zagala for “stepping up to the challenge.”

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