Science advocates tell Villar: ‘Research vital in food security’
MANILA, Philippines — A group of science and technology advocates on Wednesday have asserted the importance of strong research in the development of the agriculture sector in the country, the achievement of food security, and the upliftment of farmers’ lives.
The Food Security and Self-Sufficiency Committee of the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham) said Villar calling the Department of Agriculture (DA) “crazy for research” for allocating P150 million budget for research under the National Corn Program reflects the “lackluster support” of the national government to research and development.
“[We] would like to dispute Senator Cynthia Villar’s statement belittling the importance of research to agricultural development. We would like to assert that strong research, together with genuine land and pro-farmer reforms, plays a vital role in developing the country’s agriculture, achieving food security and uplifting the lives of our farmers,” Agham said in a statement.
Agriculture research, said Agham, has not been given sufficient attention, which is one of the reasons why the country’s state of science and technology “remains sorry and does not contribute much to the improvement of quality of life.”
“This is the stark reality of science and technology in the country,” the group said.
“Based on the global data of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development has been consistently at only 0.1%, which is way below the 1% standard set by UNESCO. The R&D (research and development) expenditure of the country pales compared to neighboring countries such as Vietnam (2.4%) and Malaysia (1.3%),” it added.
Further, Agham added that Villar’s statement seemingly underestimating the role of research in developing corn production shows her lack of deep appreciation on the contribution of science for agricultural development.
Agham also explained that there is now a more urgent need to sustain research and development in various fields like crop productivity, food production technology, biosecurity for agricultural trades, and resilience to pests, diseases, and climate change, considering the rapid changes in the environment that directly impact food production.
In a press conference in Quezon City on Wednesday, Villar clarified that she is not against research and that she only wants “research that could be applied.” /muf
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