Infrastructure is the ‘first domino’ that will bring positive change to agriculture

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said the government must put up the necessary infrastructure to finally make farming in the country a profitable job, emphasizing that this is the “first domino” that will usher in positive changes in the country’s agriculture.

In an online forum with agricultural groups on February 21, 2022, Cayetano said the government must make sure farmers have access to irrigation, transportation, and other farming necessities.

“Y’ung mga farming lalo y’ung mga livestock from Batangas and Quezon are still good sa Metro Manila. Pero from Bicol, talo ka na talaga sa transportation and everything. But with the railways coming back, FTI becomes feasible,” he said.

(Farm produce, especially livestock from Batangas and Quezon, are still good by the time they reach Metro Manila. But if it’s from Bicol, you lose a lot because of transportation costs and everything else. But with the railways coming back, FTI becomes feasible.)

FTI or Food Terminal, Inc. is a government-owned and controlled corporation under the National Food Authority (NFA) which focuses on the country’s food processing and distribution.

Cayetano said infrastructure will be the “first domino” that will usher in positive changes in the country’s “dysfunctional” food system.

“This dream is not just about the private sector making money. This dream is really about developing the country and having food security,” he said.

Cayetano also noted the government’s lack of nationwide programs to help the agriculture sector across the country achieve profitability that is sustainable.

He said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) must integrate its small initiatives into a more far-reaching agricultural program, citing as an example the department’s program with private businesses in which it teaches farmers how to extend their products’ shelf life through various packaging techniques.Cayetano said neighboring countries make sure such programs are funded and given other forms of assistance in order to benefit the people.

“Sa Thailand kasi, y’ung One Town, One Product program, may financial support. Tapos, nag-uusap-usap lahat ng town para may synergy, may lugar sila na mga outlet, kinakausap nila y’ung mga supermarket to put it (products) there,” he said.

(In Thailand, the One Town, One Product program receives financial support from the government. All the towns coordinate to ensure synergy. They determine their outlets and they ask supermarkets to put their products there.)

Thailand’s foreign affairs department, for its part, pushes for the products in other countries, he added.

Cayetano said he is hoping the next administration will put profitability and desirability of agriculture front and center, in cooperation with the private sector.###

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