Press Release
March 12, 2007


Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said a 20/10 rice production program should be the top priority of government to enable the countrys farmlands to produce 20 million metric tons of rice by 2010 and achieve that elusive goal of rice self-sufficiency.

A three-year inspired rice production program , drawing from the best of technologies and the long rice-growing tradition of our farmers , should be a priority program of government, said Angara , who as agriculture secretary carried out pioneering agricultural modernization programs.

Angara said that 20 million metric tons is enough for the national needs plus a little surplus on the side for buffer stock purposes.

Angara said that the tragic history of importing rice, in which the state-run National Food Authority imports more than one million metric tons a year just to meet domestic needs, should end.

Angara said that most of the elements for an expanded and successful rice production are available, from irrigation-fed rice lands to hybrid seeds to production technologies..

What is missing, he added, is a program that would fuse all these elements like the Green Revolution agenda of the late Rafael Salas in the late 60s. Angara , then a young lawyer in private practice, was involved by the late Paeng Salas in that program.

Angara said that achieving rice self-sufficiency will not only end the embarrassing years of rice importation and restore the pride of the countrys rice farmers. It is a very pragmatic decision with real economic benefits, he added.

Angara said that the precious drain of foreign exchange from rice imports would cease, rural areas will be economically empowered by the increased yield and modern production technologies will spill over from the labs into the production fields.

Over the past ten years , the country has been importing more than one million metric tons of rice a year mostly from neighboring Vietnam and Thailand .

It is an ugly sight, a country with a dominant farming population having to import its staple food, said Angara .

In 1998, Angara authored and sponsored the passage of the Agriculture and Fishery Modernization Act of AFMA, which has since served as the development blueprint for the modernization of the fishery and agriculture sectors.

He was also the driving force behind the Congressional Commission on Agricultural Modernization or Agricom, a bicameral and bipartisan body which studied in-depth the problems of the agriculture sector and prescribed structural remedies to these problems.

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