Marcos’ first order as DA chief: Ensure stability of food supply amid looming crisis

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Photo courtesy: Department of Agriculture/Facebook

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 4) – In his first act as Agriculture secretary, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered Department of Agriculture (DA) officials to ensure the stability of the nation’s food supply amid the looming food crisis in the country.

Marcos added that the Philippines is already in a “disadvantageous” position in terms of food supply compared to other countries, which are already responding to the global food crisis.

“We have to attend to the impending food crisis that it seems it will be visiting us in the next two quarters,” Marcos said in his first meeting with Agriculture officials on Monday.

Marcos instructed them to increase the production of rice and corn, and guarantee the stability of the supply of pork and chicken.

“We have to think hard about making sure that people have the same...sufficient food. At number one, at price that they can afford. It is useless to have food if you cannot afford it anyway,” the President said.

During the meeting, Marcos also urged DA officials to forward to him their proposed executive orders in addressing the food crisis.

"If there are some EOs (executive orders) and some legislation you will need, even a supplementary budget, tingnan natin kung may makuha pa tayo [let's see if we can still get more)," Marcos said.

For long-term solutions, Marcos ordered the DA to implement the Masagana 150 and 200 programs and the remodeling of Kadiwa stores nationwide.

The Masagana 150 and Masagana 200 initiatives are offshoots of the Masagana 99 rice production program implemented during the regime of Marcos’ father and namesake Ferdinand E. Marcos. The new Masagana programs were proposed by William Dar, the last Agriculture secretary of the Duterte administration.

“These are good plans that we have to put in place. Let us operationalize them already,” the President ordered.

Masagana 150 targets to produce 7.5 tons of inbred rice per hectare at ₱8.38 per kilo to allow farmers to earn at least ₱50,000 per hectare. Masagana 200 aims to yield 10 tons of hybrid rice per hectare at ₱7.82 per kilo, where farmers are expected to have a profit of at least ₱70,000 per hectare.

In remodeling the Kadiwa stores, Marcos said the rolling food outlets must adapt to the latest technology in food production.

“We really have to reconstruct our value chain starting from our scientists and our researchers all the way to the Kadiwa store. So, we have to remake that model,” said Marcos.

Marcos also ordered DA officials to submit to him the pros and cons of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.

The RCEP is seen to hasten the import and export of products among member-states across the region. Its members include the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte ratified the RCEP in Sept. 2021, but it failed to hurdle the Senate in the 18th Congress.

RELATED: New DTI chief Pascual to push for 'immediate ratification' of RCEP, other trade deals 

Marcos earlier said that the local agriculture sector must be “sufficiently robust” and competitive with other countries before the country can join the RCEP. 

In his inaugural speech, Marcos emphasized that agriculture and food sufficiency will be among the priorities of his administration.