DAVAO CITY – Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Wednesday that switching to high-value crops can be disastrous to the country’s food security.
He cited that rice farmers in irrigated and soggy areas, for example, could not be encouraged to switch to high-value crop production because not many crops would grow well in water-logged areas.
“Perhaps, "switching" is not an appropriate word or should not be the intent of the "Doubling Income of Farmers Act." Let us encourage our farmers to double their income by planting high-value crops in areas where these are suitable in addition to their current farming activities,” he said.
He added that he sent a text message to Senator Imee Marcos, asking for clarification on the true intent of a bill she filed titled "Doubling Income of Farmers Act."
The text message reads, "Good morning mam. I read with great concern the report on your proposed "Doubling Income of Farmers Act". I just hope the Businessworld headline "SENATE BILL SETS OUT INCENTIVES FOR FARMERS TO SWITCH TO HIGH-VALUE CROPS" is not an accurate description of the intent of your bill. While we should indeed encourage farmers to plant high-value crops, this should not mean urging them to abandon the production of our staple food in favor of growing dragon fruits. This could have a disastrous effect on our food sufficiency program. I hope you could issue a clarificatory statement. Salamat po."
“The use of the word "Switching" was what set out alarm bells for me as a farmer and food sufficiency advocate. Now, let me get this clear. I fully support the production of high-value crops. In fact, I am an ardent advocate and practitioner of high-value crop production,” the MinDA chief clarified.
He also cited that as an advocate of Rice Self-Sufficiency for the country, he doesn't even grow rice for the simple reason that his land is not suited for rice production where the growing of crops is determined by the type of soil, the climate, the elevation and the availability of water.
“This means that not every farmer could grow high-value crops because of the aforementioned factors. The High-Value Crops Production Program should not be promoted at the expense of our food production program because the basic essence of agriculture is to feed our people. The program should be double-barreled and well-balanced,” he added.
He said that farmers should be encouraged to plant high-value crops only for additional income, instead. PR
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