Mainstreaming new farming technology to increase the production of rice and other food items is the focus of the Philippine Rice Research Institute’s (PhilRice) Strategic Plan 2023-2028, according to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
In his message at the 35th National Rice Research for Development Conference delivered by Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., the chief executive said the priority of the plan is to disseminate new technologies that will not only increase food production but also lift farmers’ income.
“Rest assured that the government shall continue to give primacy to research and development to ensure a sustainable rice value chain,” Marcos said.
“We will also continue to support the initiatives undertaken by the PhilRice in introducing modern agricultural biotechnology to improve rice production.”
Among the innovations to be introduced by PhilRice, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, is the NSIC Rc 160—a local premium rice, which will be marketed as “Lakambini.”
Similar schemes, Marcos said, will also be implemented for livestock, poultry, fisheries and high value crops.
The President stressed the importance of strengthening the food value chain so the country can become food secure.
He said the measure will not only improve the productivity of farmers, but also deter illegal activities, such as smuggling and hoarding.
“In collaboration with relevant law enforcement agencies, we will continue to give priority to combating illegal activities that involve our agricultural produce,” Marcos said.
The 35th National Rice R4D Conference was held at the DA-PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija with the theme: “Better Rice Communities.”
The President’s pronouncement came more than a month after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released data on food self-sufficiency which indicated that the country’s rice self-sufficiency ratio (SSR) fell 77 percent in 2022. The SSR last year was the lowest in more than two decades, as the country remained as one of the world’s largest importers of the staple.
PSA data showed that the country’s rice SSR last year was lower than the 81.5 percent level recorded in 2021.
Historical PSA data showed that last year’s rice SSR was the lowest in 24 years or since 1998, when it settled at 72.1 percent.
This is the third time, since 1988, that the country’s rice SSR was below 80 percent.
The PSA defines SSR as the extent to which the country’s domestic production can meet its domestic requirement.
“A ratio of less than 100 percent indicates inadequacy of food production to cope with the demand of the population,” the PSA said. “The higher the ratio, the greater the self-sufficiency.”
The country’s milled rice output last year fell to 12.921 million metric tons (MMT) from the record-level of 13.054 MMT registered in 2021, according to the PSA.
During the same year, the Philippines’s rice imports surged to a record 3.863 MMT, about 30 percent higher than the 2.967 MMT it imported in 2021, PSA data showed.