Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday called on the different national agencies to work together and modernize the country’s agriculture so Filipino farmers can profit more.
In an interview with the media on November 3, 2021 before his dialogue with strawberry farmers in Baguio City, Cayetano said the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should work jointly in helping Filipino farmers develop modern techniques of farming, fertilization, and hybrid seed planting.
“We can’t just keep protecting the agriculture sector from the gumagandang system ng agriculture ng neighbors natin [tapos] hindi natin mino-modernize y’ung atin,” he said.
(We can’t just keep on protecting our agricultural sector from the thriving system of agriculture of our neighboring countries without modernizing ours.)
His statement came in the heels of the recent P15-million worth of smuggled fresh vegetables from China intercepted at the Subic Bay Freeport.
He said the spread of smuggled vegetables leads to a decrease in prices of local produce.
He added, however, that preventing smuggling should only be one side of the government’s effort to make sure the Filipino farmers are earning well.
Cayetano said instead of cash subsidies for farming tools, it would be better to utilize the government’s agricultural fund for programs that will encourage innovation and make the sector more competitive.
He added that the DA, DOST, and DTI can help farmers in putting up food processing systems and shared facilities so their income does not rely on crops alone.
“Look at y’ung mga madre sa Good Shepherd. May natutulungan na, may pumapasok pang [kita] kasi natutong gumawa ng masarap na ube jam,” the former Speaker said, referring to the famous store of fruit jams run by nuns at Mines View Park.
(Look at the nuns of Good Shepherd. They learned how to make good ube jam. Now they’re earning while helping others.)