Cynthia Villar: Next Agriculture secretary must have 'heart for small farmers' | Inquirer News

Cynthia Villar: Next Agriculture secretary must have ‘heart for small farmers’

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 03:00 PM January 24, 2023
The secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) must have a heart for small farmers, Senator Cynthia Villar said on Tuesday.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the committee on agriculture, food, and agrarian reform, presides over a hybrid hearing on various proposed measures seeking to develop the livestock industry in the country at the Senate in Pasay City, January 9, 2023. (Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — The secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) must have a heart for small farmers, Senator Cynthia Villar said on Tuesday.

Until now, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. concurrently leads the DA, though he recently expressed his readiness to give  up the Agriculture portfolio to a full-time secretary.

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According to Marcos, the next DA secretary should be an expert in agriculture.

But Villar, who heads the  Senate committee on agriculture, had a different point of view.

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“Maraming expert kaya lang kung wala namang heart for the farmers aapihin din ang small farmers,”  she said in an interview at the Senate.

(Numerous experts exist, but they will do little to help farmers if they lack compassion for their plight. )

“Kasi alam mo mahirap din pag maraming nag i-influence sayo  to do something  that is not good for the farmers and  minsan hindi na rin maka-resist kaya dapat talaga may heart na devoted sa farmer para maka resist sa mga temptation na ganun.”

(It’s also difficult if many people influence you to do something that is not good for the farmers and sometimes you can no longer resist. That’s why it’s really important to have a heart devoted to farmers to resist those temptations.)

Villar agreed with the need for a full-time head of the agency, but she emphasized that the future Agriculture secretary should have a genuine love for farmers.

“Kasi kahit  ka may secretary of agriculture kung hindi  mo naman  mahal ang farmer e di wala ring serbisyo [If there’s a secretary of Agriculture but doesn’t love the farmers, there would be an absence of service],”  she pointed out, lamenting how the agency has long been  labeled as the Department of  Importation because of its  supposed practice of resorting  to importation whenever there is a shortage of supply.

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Villar reiterated that importation should only be a temporary solution to the shortage problem as the government should instead focus on developmental programs to make local farmers more competitive.

When pressed, however, if she has someone in mind she wants to be the next DA chief,  the senator  repeatedly  answered no, adding that “Sabi ng husband ko, wag daw ako magko-comment ng ganyan.”

(My husband told me not to comment on that.)

“Hindi ako naghahanap  e kasi hindi naman ako presidente bakit ako maghahanap? she said when pressed further for Marcos’ replacement at the DA.

(I’m not looking for one because I’m not the president, why  should I be the one looking [an agriculture secretary].)

JPV/abc

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TAGS: Agriculture Secretary, Cynthia Villar, DA, Department of Agriculture, secretary
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