Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano again urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to make agriculture in the country desirable so that more Filipinos will invest in the industry.
“I think ang pinakamalaking problema ng agriculture ay hindi siya pinapansin,” Cayetano stressed in an interview with DZRH on April 11, 2022.
The former Speaker said that for the longest time, only big corporations have been investing in the industry because ordinary Filipinos do not see family farming as profitable.
“Sa atin ngayon, y’ung ubod ng yaman lang at y’ung corporate ang nagrerenta at kumikita sa farming; y’ung farmers hindi eh. So pati DA nahihirapan kumuha ng pondo [mula sa gobyerno],” he said.
“Pero gawin nating exciting ‘yan, gawin nating uso, y’ung mga bata [magugustuhan] ulit,” he continued.
Cayetano said “ordinary agriculture” does not work anymore. Instead, he urged the DA to help small farmers become “farmer-businessmen” by putting up agri-business hubs where they can make use of shared cold storage and food-processing facilities .
These on top of farming staples such as fertilizers, irrigation, and farm-to-market roads.
Cayetano also urged the government to pump-prime the farming industry by giving out low-interest loans with grace periods to small farmers to enable them to expand.
He said fisherfolk will also benefit from such loans, enabling them to explore new technologies such as deep-sea cages and in-land fish ponds.
“Hindi naman tayo makakatayo ng fish pond sa Pampanga halimbawa for 1 million [pesos]. Pero kung 1 million natin [gagamitin] sa lupa, at makakahiram tayo sa Landbank ng another 2 million, for the next 30 years ang pamilya natin mapapakain natin dito sa fish pond, maraming incentives, maraming papasok sa atin including good business, d’un tayo pupunta,” he cited.
He said these programs can then form part of an information campaign that the Department can launch to reintroduce agriculture as a profitable and “enjoyable” livelihood.
“N’ung nasa Gabinete ako, nakita ko naman from [Agriculture] Secretary [Emmanuel] Piñol to [his successor] Secretary [William] Dar kung paano rin itulak y’ung mga reporma d’yan. But it has to be the nation finding it desirable,” Cayetano said.