MANILA, Philippines — President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will lead the Department of Agriculture (DA) concurrently in the first part of his administration.
Marcos himself announced this on Monday before his June 30 swearing in as president.
“As far as agriculture is concerned, I think the problem is serious enough that I have decided to take on the portfolio of agriculture secretary, at least for now,” Marcos said during a briefing. release in Mandaluyong City.
“At least until we can reorganize the Ministry of Agriculture in such a way as to prepare it for the next few years to come,” he added.
Marcos said the decision to take over as head of the agriculture department “will make it clear to everyone how high a priority we place on the agricultural sector.”
“We are going back to basics and trying and we will rebuild the agriculture value chain. And that’s why I thought it was important for the president to take on this portfolio in order to not just impress on everyone how high a priority we place on the agricultural sector,” Marcos said.
“[It is also] a practical question to get things moving quickly because events in the global economy are moving very quickly. We have to be able to be agile, we have to be able to react correctly in a measured way as soon as there is a situation that needs to be remedied,” he added.
According to Marcos, there are two areas that he believes should be his priorities as he takes on the role of chief agriculture officer: increasing rice production and revamping the agriculture department.
Marcos pointed out that the export pact between Thailand and Vietnam, two of the biggest sources of imported rice in the Philippines, to form a rice export cartel calls for increased rice production here.
“There are many priorities that we have to take care of simultaneously. First of all, it will be about trying to increase production as we enter the harvest period during, before and after the rainy season,” he said. “Hopefully we can counteract some of the price increases.”
Marcos also pointed to the need to revamp the DA — particularly its attached agencies, the National Food Authority, Food Terminal Incorporated and the Kadiwa program.
“The other priority which is equally important, although it is a long-term process, is the restructuring of the DA. As I’ve mentioned many times before, many agencies have changed their function over the years and maybe it’s time to give them back,” Marcos said.
“We need to restructure the current department to be more responsive to the global situation with regard to food supply,” he added.
Russian-Ukrainian war and impact on the PH
Marcos added that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also affected the Philippine agricultural sector, especially in terms of food supply and prices.
The new president said he has asked various agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Management, the National Economic Development Authority and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to have economic forecasts on what the country could face for the rest of the year, and they collectively pointed to rising food prices in the months ahead.
“We have been able in the Philippines over the past few weeks to adjust to the new situation in terms of imports from Ukraine and Russia,” Marcos said.
“But these emergency measures that we have taken will not be sufficient in the long term and that is why we need to plan more thoroughly than just react,” he added.
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