Press Release
January 13, 2010


Sen. Edgardo Angara today called on the government to strengthen policies on domestic trade and agriculture, including its sub-sectors, and prepare more strategies to ward off possible food shortage in the country in 2010.

"The country's unmilled rice production of 3.5 million tons in late-2009 fell short by 71,000 tons from the government's 3.59 million tons forecast. Our rice imports may reach around 2.0 million tons after super typhoons battered large portions of the country's rice-growing areas in Northern and Central Luzon. This, amid the 2010 global rice deficit of 6.7 million tons reported by London-based research company Business Monitor International (BMI)," said Angara, former Agriculture Secretary.

A United Nations food envoy said a new food price crisis is only a matter of time, attributing to similar key factors behind the price spikes in 2008: speculation and the domination of global food markets by large agri-business corporations. Research groups and multilateral institutions warn that 2010 could bring us another food crisis. Low food stocks, rising global food prices, and the possibility that some rice-producing countries would have to heavily import rice to fill production gaps, suggest that local food prices may rise this year.

The World Bank agrees that the world needs to be prepared for another food crisis and steps should be taken immediately to build food security in developing countries. Recovery of developed countries from the global economic crisis is resulting in higher oil prices, causing the price of agricultural inputs and commodities to rise. This puts the Philippines, one of the world's biggest rice importers, in a particularly vulnerable state.

"As a result of post harvest inadequacy, food is more expensive to produce here than in many parts of Asia. Plugging these huge post-harvest losses in the grains sector, even only by half, would dramatically reduce our import dependency ratio. Moreover, Philippine agriculture is handicapped by the lack of basic facilities such as farm to market roads, irrigation networks, fishing ports and access to basic credit," he said.

After the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported its Food Price Index registered four straight months of increases in 2009, Angara urged Congress to expedite the legislative processes of pending bills in the Senate that address the flaws of agriculture laws.

Among the reforms Angara proposes are the Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Act of 2009 (SB3100), the Coconut Industry Development Act (SB2873), Coconut Emergency Measures Act (SB869) and the Rural Employment Generation Act (SB883). These bills are geared towards addressing the shortages in production among the agriculture sub-sectors, maximizing rural lands, innovations in the coconut industry and reforms in the previously enacted Agro-Fisheries Law, also another of Angara's landmark laws.

"A healthy stock situation and good production are the best way to avoid a major price surge over the next six months. This emphasizes the need to increase our local food production by investing in agricultural infrastructure, especially post harvest facilities, and a strong research and development," offered Angara.

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