Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mar Roxas: We need a 10 Year food security Plan

Transcript of Senator Mar Roxas speech on the rice crisis:

“We must now convert the current crisis into a genuine opportunity for agricultural reforms. What we need is a ten-year food security plan done quietly but competently in consultation with experts and stakeholders, attuned with global trends and realities but with very clear domestic targets and a realistic to-do list. Otherwise, we will continue to muddle our way through a global regime of soaring food prices. The well-meaning recommendations of different groups during the one-day Summit can be integrated into this ten-year plan.

“A ten-year food security plan must be done soup-to-nuts style, meaning from seed distribution to market access and with social programs to help farmers in between cycles. It must identify the number of driers that the DA will purchase for our farmers per municipality to prevent spoilage and wastage. It also must include a nationwide irrigation plan and funds for R&D attuned to specific rice productivity targets for the next ten years. It should include a detailed plan for other non-agricultural food sectors as well.

“We must also consider the fiscal sustainability factor as we are confronted with a humongous rice import bill for the coming months alone. I reiterate my call on the President to convene the LEDAC so we can reach a consensus on interim and long-term solutions to the current food crisis and its impact on our country’s fiscal and economic situation.

“As to public accountability, let’s start with the government’s rice importation program. How much in totality are our rice imports? When were they negotiated, for how much per metric ton, and when will these rice imports actually arrive in Manila? The release of such information is the best assurance to our people that there will indeed be adequate supply of rice in the country for the coming months. I ask the DA and DBM to present this bill of particulars to the people as a sign of their commitment to transparency and accountability in the use of agriculture funds.”