Duterte: PH will always import rice
The country will never attain rice sufficiency and may import the staple for as long as the problems of overpopulation and lack of arable land are present, President Rodrigo Duterte said.
Speaking at the signing of an agreement on the Free Higher Education Act on Wednesday, the President said the country was hard put to “satisfy the food [needs] of the Filipinos.”
In Mindanao, he said, food crops have declined because choice lands had been taken over “by the cash-crop guys.”
“If you ask me…we just have to import rice,” the President said. “I do not believe that we can be rice sufficient.”
He elicited laughter from his audience when he dismissed as “just a story” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s claim that the country would be rice sufficient at the end of the year.
The President said he had “to cut” the powers of certain members of his Cabinet “for being short-sighted and jumping into other’s territory” after the rice stocks of the National Food Authority fell dangerously low.
These officials were also asked to explain why the rice buffer stock was “not as high…as the ceiling” and was only good for three to four days, he said.
“It’s always visual. If a person sees his rice supply was reaching the ceiling, that’s a very consoling sight for him,” the President said, adding it was better to have an oversupply.
“I do not care if you have to sell it at a lower price someday, [or] if there is a glut in the market,” the President said. —Christine O. Avendaño
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