Press Release
July 8, 2009

As the world focuses on farming to ensure food security...
Villar: Agriculture is Key to Food Sustainability

Acknowledging the continued risks of food shortage as would be emphasized in the upcoming G8 Summit, Nacionalista President Senator Manny Villar renewed his call for greater investment in the agriculture sector.

"The Philippines should follow the lead of other countries in channeling more investments to agricultural development because the threat of food shortage never really goes away. The rice crisis recently should have taught us an important lesson," said Villar.

The Group of Eight (G8) countries is set to launch a food security initiative that will commit more than $12 billion for agricultural development particularly farming in developing nations, which signals a shift of strategy from food aid to farming and agricultural development.

"During times of food or rice shortage, as we have experienced recently, dole-outs or food aid are just a bandage solution. We need to have a sustainable strategy. The key to food security is long-term investment in agriculture," the former Senate President said.

The United Nations itself has cited that the recent food crisis is a result ofdecades of under-investment in agriculture. "If you neglect agriculture, you affect the lives of 40 to 50 percent of our people. This consequently leads to poverty and increased hunger," cites Villar.

According to him, once and for all, the Philippines push through with its goal of rice self-sufficiency. "We are an agricultural country and yet we continue to rely heavily on imports and have in fact become the world's biggest rice importer. We cannot keep on postponing our rice self-sufficiency goals."

Economic managers earlier vowed that the country would be 100% rice self-sufficient by the end of the decade, only to push it back to 2013. Meanwhile, rice production for the rest of the year is still not within targets.

Data from the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that January-March palay crop was estimated at 3.94 million metric tons (MT).The second quarter production must reach 3.43 million MT to meet the first-half target of 7.37 million MT. Last year's output was 7.12 million MT.

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