Ex-agri chief doesn't see ₱20/kg rice happening in next two years

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s campaign promise of rice being sold at ₱20 per kilogram under his administration is unlikely to happen in the next two years, former Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Friday.

"With all of what is happening, that is not tenable presently...It will take some time," Dar told CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

He said the main problem was that rice landholdings were very small – with an average of one to 1.3 hectares per farmer.

"How can you do much with technology and mechanization when you have these small landholdings? Dati-dati [Before], land and labor would be the major sources of productivity, ngayon [now] the major sources of productivity levels and income increase is the use of new technologies and innovations," Dar explained.

He added that the government should pursue cluster farming, or the merger of smallholder farms.

Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food Inc. National Chairman Danilo Fausto agreed that the ₱20 per kilogram goal could not be attained anytime soon.

"We really need to increase productivity and decrease the cost of producing rice. Without that condition, then the government can bring down to ₱20 only if it heavily subsidizes the price and demand side," Fausto said.

Marcos, who's also Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary, earlier said the government wanted to fulfill the goal as soon as possible, but that this was hindered by bad weather.

READ: Marcos: ₱20/kilo rice price goal eyed 'ASAP,' but weather a factor

The DA also said the goal was achievable, but in the long run.