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ADDRESSING THE DEVELOPING RICE CRISIS IN MINDANAO

Raiding rice hoarders’ warehouses a band-aid solution – Drilon

/ 04:42 PM September 03, 2018

SELLING STATION. NFA rice is sold at barangay stations in Zamboanga City to make it available to the communities. —JULIE ALIPALA

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday claimed that raiding rice hoarders’ warehouses would just be a “band-aid solution” to the developing rice crisis in some areas of Mindanao.

Drilon pointed out that what the country needs is long-term solutions that will build-up the agriculture sector.

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The lawmaker’s remark came after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened rice hoarders that he will not hesitate to use his emergency powers and order the military to raid their warehouses amid ongoing effort to solve the rice crisis in Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

“The long-term solution, therefore, is to provide support to our farmers,” Drilon said during the contract signing for the construction of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project Phase II (JRMP II) at the National Irrigation Authority (NIA).

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Drilon also urged the Duterte administration to prioritize the construction of agricultural infrastructure in its “Build, Build, Build” program.

“The administration should give priority to agricultural infrastructure in the Build, Build, Build program, because this will provide us with the long-term solutions to food security. This is critical for our food security,” Drilon stressed.

READ: Agriculture infrastructure needed in ‘Build, Build, Build’—Drilon

Drilon said that rice exporting countries have critical ingredient in their agricultural production, particularly irrigation, like Vietnam’s Mekong River.

In the country, however, Drilon lamented that irrigation projects would take decades to be fully implemented, citing the construction of the JRMP II, which took 58 years before its second phase is funded, and the Halog Dam in Ilocos Norte, which was stalled for 30 years.

“In the Philippines, why is there rice shortage? Because we don’t have sufficient production. Why is the production side not enough? Simply because we lack the critical ingredient to agricultural productivity, which is agricultural infrastructure that can support our farmers,” he said.

The senator added that government should prioritize the construction of agricultural infrastructure to achieve rice self-sufficiency and help farmers become more productive.  /kga

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