Ex-agri chief Piñol lauds choice of Laurel at helm of DA
PAGADIAN CITY — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. gave the Department of Agriculture (DA) “a breath of fresh air” by appointing Francisco Tiu-Laurel Jr. at the helm of the agency.
This was how former agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol described the decision of the President to pick an agriculture chief in Laurel after 16 months of leading the agency himself.
Piñol, who headed the agency under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, said Laurel “is a stakeholder representing the fisheries sector,” being president of Frabelle Fishing Corporation.
“Good choice… His appointment is a major breakthrough for the fisheries sector which had long been neglected,” Piñol said in a social media post on Friday.
He added that Laurel “does not carry a political baggage” since “he does not owe his appointment to any political patron as he was personally picked by the President.”
Piñol characterized Laurel as “a practitioner of the philosophy that agriculture is not just producing but it also involves processing and marketing,” hopeful that the framework of the complete value chain will guide the agency’s policies and actions.
Piñol added that with Laurel as agriculture chief, he is hopeful that the Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) will be opened in various production areas of the country “to buy direct from farmers and fishermen to be sold in food outlets in the population centers.”
Earlier, Piñol, who is now a full-time farmer, advised the President to adopt a “repositioning strategy” not only for rice but also for other basic commodities consumed by the people to improve the country’s food supply and make food more affordable to common households.
He explained that there is a need to identify provinces that produce food commodities over their local requirements so the excess production could be brought to areas experiencing a dearth of supply. He proposes for the FTI to undertake this role.
Piñol also said that directly procuring these basic commodities from farmers without middlemen or traders as possible will help bring down their prices.
“At the same time, farmers will be inspired to produce more as they already have direct link with the market, they are assured that their harvest would not be spoiled,” he said, citing several incidents in the country when farmers only left their goods to rot by the roadside because of very low selling price.
“With FTI, farmers may be contracted to produce more chicken, fruits, vegetables, while FTI will sell these products to areas where these are most needed,” he said, adding that to keep the prices down.