Press Release
March 28, 2010

ROXAS: IMPROVING IRRIGATION IN FARMS TO CLOSE RICE GAP
ENOUGH SUPPORT TO FARMERS ENSURED UNDER AQUINO-ROXAS GOV'T

Liberal Party vice-presidential candidate and consistent race frontrunner Senator Mar Roxas today said the Aquino-Roxas government will work on closing the rice supply gap in the country and eventually stopping the need to import rice.

This, as he committed that the Aquino-Roxas government will strive to complete irrigating the 68% of the 4.46 million hectares of rice farmlands in the country which, until now, still solely rely on the sun and the rain.

"Kitang kita ang pagkukulang ng kasalukuyang gobyerno sa mga magsasaka dito sa pagsalanta ng El Niño sa ating mga sakahan. Tayo, hindi na hihintayin pang dumating ang problema: sa unang araw pa lang, kikilos na tayo para sa mga magsasaka (We saw how the current government failed our farmers reeling from El Niño. We will come to the aid of farmers starting day one, before the problem arrives)," he added.

"Kung tapat at tuwid ang pamumuno, tiyak ang asenso ng ating mga magsasaka. Ang ipinaglalaban natin: reporma, para ang ating mga magsasaka dito sa Pilipinas ay di na lang naka-asa sa araw at ulan (If government is clean and honest, meaningful lives for farmers will be ensured. We are fighting for reforms so that our farmers here in Philippines will not anymore be largely at the mercy of the sun and rain)," he said.

He said that under the Agriculture Renaissance plan of the Aquino-Roxas government, interventions would be put in place to improve the yield of ricelands and the incomes of farmers who have been neglected by government in the past years.

Using small-scale irrigation, irrigating all these farmlands would cost P30 to P45 billion. Estimates show that more P200 billion have been lost to corruption in 2009.

Roxas said that if all rainfed lands right now are amply irrigated, then palay yield can be increased by at least 1.8 million MT (roughly 1.2 million MT of rice) —a significant reduction to our country's rice supply gap which now stands at 2-3 million MT. At present, irrigated farms yield 4.14 metric tons of palay per hectare, while rainfed lands yield a ton lower at 2.98 MT/Ha.

With proper reforms under the Agricultural Renaissance plan, Roxas computed that rice land yields could increase to as much as 7 MT per hectare—an additional 4.5 million MT—by 2016. These include ensuring sufficient and proper infrastructure such as irrigation, quality and affordable seeds and inputs, availability of modern post-harvest facilities, and research and development extension support.

"Imbes na mga magsasaka sa Thailand o Vietnam mapunta ang pera ng bansa, dapat ang mga magsasaka natin dito sa ating bansa, ang magiging masagana ang kabuhayan (Instead of Thai or Viet farmers earning from our country, it should be our own farmers here in our country who would enjoy abundance)," he stressed.

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