Consultation Meeting with Incoming DA and DBM Secretaries
Incoming Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Department of Budget Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno recently conducted a consultation meeting with officials of the National Food Authority and stakeholders of the grains industry in Davao City.
NFA executives led by Officer-In-Charge Tomas Escarez attended the consultation meeting together with more than 200 grains industry players from Mindanao and Luzon area.
In an earlier statement, Piñol said that he wanted agencies formerly under the DA to be returned under its fold. NFA, together with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA), were transferred to the Office of the President on May 5, 2014 under the Office of Presidential Adviser for Food Security Modernization (OPAFSAM) by virtue of Executive Order No. 165.
During the meeting, NFA-Region 11 Director Dianne Silva delivered the welcome remarks. This was followed by a briefing by OIC Escarez on the vision, mission, mandates, functions and programs of the food agency. Meanwhile, Deputy Administrator Ludovico Jarina presented the industry situationer, updates on the local and global market and current situations in major rice producing countries in Asia.
Piñol, who introduced himself as a former employee during the National Grains Authority (NGA) era, emphasized the need for available and affordable food for the people by providing a mechanism for preservation and mobility of food from one surplus area to another area where it is needed. This is in line with President-elect Rody Duterte’s order to ensure enough food for the Filipino people. He added that the meeting was prodded by Engr. Henry Sorongon of Davao del Sur, the head of the Mindanao Millers Association.
Meanwhile, Sec. Diokno made a presentation comparing the growth of the national domestic product against the growth in the agriculture sector. It showed that at present, the agriculture sector contributed less to the national economy and farmers remained vulnerable in the society left with little assistance from the government.
During the break-hour session, NFA officials were separated from the grains industry players to discuss some relevant issues and concerns of the agency. Asst. Adm. Leticia Cruz briefed Sec. Piñol, Sec. Diokno and USec. Bernadette Romulo on the NFA’s financial conditions, its cash flow detailing the fund sources and fund uses.
The grains industry players on the other hand, were grouped into different sectors to discuss issues and concerns affecting them with NFA officials facilitating the discussions and taking notes for submission to Sec. Piñol.
Some of the issues and concerns identified were the lack of/poor irrigation, low government support price for palay, poor access to credit, high production cost but low return on investments for farmers, low price for grain produce/poor marketing, ASEAN Integration and lifting of Quantitative Restrictions/influx of cheap imported rice, rampant smuggling and oversupply of imported rice, land conversion, NFA mandate on food security and stabilization, social protection and poverty alleviation of farmers, supply management and distribution/food security, aging farmers/decreasing enrolees in agricultural courses, poor investment performance in processing facilities, high cost of electricity and power supply and high price of commercial rice during lean months.
Based on identified issues, the different sectoral groups recommended proposed solutions to be acted upon by concerned government agencies
Incoming DA Sec. Emmanuel Piñol (standing) delivering a message before NFA officials and grains industry stakeholders.
Grains industry stakeholders attend the consultation meeting with incoming DA Sec. Piñol and DBM Sec. Diokno
NFA Officials headed by OIC Escarez (seated, 2nd row, left) in a posterity with incoming DA Sec. Piñol (seated, 2nd row, 2nd from left) and DBM Sec. Diokno ((seated, 2nd row, 3rd from left)