In a rice industry convergence meeting, President Marcos, who is also the agriculture secretary, said that the Philippines is aiming to achieve 97.5 percent rice sufficiency in five years. This is to be done through a program that bears the name of an agriculture initiative launched during the time of President Marcos’s late father who is also his namesake.
The Masagana Rice Industry Program seeks to achieve the highest possible rice sufficiency level by implementing various strategies. According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), the program is designed “to support rice farmers, increase rice production, and strengthen the rice value chain.” The program’s roadmap was approved last May 31.
“This convergence meeting, I think, has given us a good roadmap to follow, but many can still happen between now and our goal of having 97.5-percent self-sufficiency in rice. I don’t think you have to be 100 percent… But I think 97.5 (percent), I think is a good enough number. We can feel that… We can say that we are able to feed, at least we have enough harvested rice,” the President said.
He also added, “You do not have to really go to 100 percent because the three percent is for ‘niche products, the organic, special grain, Japanese rice, and the like. We do not need to provide that. But with 97 percent, we can say that we can feed all our countrymen with enough rice supply.”
The program’s name is similar to that of Masagana ’99, a 1973 program that sought to address rice shortage and production. According to experts, Masagana ’99 was able to address the rice shortage but was piled with credit program issues. It was discontinued in 1984.
During the meeting, President Marcos also detailed various measures to boost agricultural production and assist the farming sector. According to him, mechanization, adoption of new farming technologies, and digitalization would be helpful to farmers. “The importance of consolidation is key. That really is the first step. We cannot do all of the other things that we want to do until we organize our farmers,” he stated.