BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
With Covid-19 pandemic may last long, former Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol yesterday issued a warning that the crisis in food production being experienced by Filipinos will continue, unless there is a self-sufficiency food program.
Piñol, chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority, who met yesterday with Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City, disclosed that he and Lacson shared a common assessment that the main problem of the country is “food production”.
He referred to the looming food supply crisis, especially for sources of protein like pork and chicken that were seriously affected by the COVID 19 lockdowns and, in the case of hogs, the unabated spread of a viral disease that has killed some 5.5-million heads.
“We cannot rely on imported food always, because the supply chain could be disrupted by pandemics, such as Covid-19, aside from geo-political considerations, Pinol said, citing the problem in the West Philippines Sea.
The lack of supply of pork and chicken meat is a problem that we have to address strategically, and cash dole outs to farmers will not work, he stressed.
As he had been saying ever since, Piñol said “We cannot rely on other countries for our food supply, because it is totally unwise”, he added that the country has the capability to be self-sufficient in food production.
While he refused to comment on the way government is dealing with food sufficiency strategy right now, Pinol, however, said that he will do what has to be done.
“In Mindanao, we are working so hard so that Mindanao will be able to feed its own people, he said.
Pinol said he cannot understand why we insist on importing pork or chicken, the importation period of which may last three to five months.
But he said that broilers mature in 27 days. So, he added, there is no need for importation.
Instead of importation, they should extend help to farmers by giving them grants or subsidy, Piñol said.
Importation is a must if you lack the supply, but reliance on importation is wrong, he said, stressing also the need to always strive to produce enough food for Filipinos.
Piñol also said that he Gov. Lacson have agreed to forge a memorandum of technical cooperation between Mindanao Development Authority on farming technologies, such as in a livestock production program, as well as planting materials for hybrid coconut, avocado and other fruit trees.*