President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday urged Filipinos to support his administration’s urban farming initiatives that would address threats to food security.
Mr. Marcos also said the government will soon introduce the use of biofertilizers to local farmers to cut their dependence on expensive, imported, petroleum-based fertilizers.
In a related development, the President said that the Mega Manufacturing Plant in Batangas serves as an example of what he wants to achieve in the country’s agriculture sector, pointing out the importance of upscaling agricultural operations to benefit small farmers and fisherfolk (see the full story on Business, page B4 – Editors).
Mr. Marcos lauded the collaborative efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in launching the Halina’t Magtanim ng Prutas at Gulay/Kadiwa Ay Yaman/Plants for Bountiful Barangays Movement (Hapag Kay PBBM) at the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium in Manila.
“As this initiative consolidates the programs of these two agencies on urban agriculture, I am confident that we will further increase our capacity to take part in our goal to address poverty, ensure food security, and protect the environment even at the barangay level,” the President, who serves concurrently as DA secretary, said.
“I am thankful for the preparations that you have made not only in setting up this activity, but also in committing to sustain the success of the whole program, not only for now but in the coming years,” he added.
The HAPAG KAY PBBM is an urban agriculture program that merges the DILG’s HAPAG sa Barangay Project and the DA’s Green Revolution 2.0: Plants for Bountiful Barangays Movement (Luntiang Ani ng Mamamayan).
It aims to increase the villages’ capacity for sustainable agriculture, encourage local government units (LGUs) to recognize the importance of urban agriculture, boost the production of fruits and vegetables in homes and communities, and promote urban agriculture technologies nationwide.
Mr. Marcos emphasized the importance of public cooperation to enable the country to overcome “present and future challenges” in attaining food security.
“I would also like to ask the Filipino people to support this program so that we can help our communities recover from rising prices, the impact of calamities, and the other threats to food security,” he said.
“As your President and the Secretary of Agriculture, I assure you that your government will continue to provide support to local government units to enforce this program. Rest assured that this government remains committed to providing our people with access to fresh, nutritious food at an affordable cost.”
Mr. Marcos Jr said he would use all government programs to help small business owners, which mostly comprise the Kadiwa program throughout the country.
Because of their importance to the country’s economy, he said his government is focusing on assisting micro, small, and medium enterprises (SMEs) to recoup from the pandemic.
This will help small businesses and producers recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and provide the public with cheaper basic goods, the President said during the launch of the Kadiwa ng Pangulo in Batangas Wednesday.
“With unity among all the government agencies, our producers, and our farmers, this program will succeed,” he said.
Meanwhile, on imported, petroleum-based fertilizers, Mr. Marcos said: “We are totally dependent on petroleum-based fertilizer – now, we are going to introduce biofertilizer to our farmers and teach them how to use it.”
“Hopefully, this will ease our concerns when it comes to the supply of fertilizer, and we can fully control the availability of biofertilizer,” the President said after a briefing with agriculture and other officials from different agencies.
“Now, there will still be a mix. Not only – the urea will not disappear, those will not disappear the non-organic. But we will lessen our dependence on importation when it comes to fertilizer supply,” Mr. Marcos said.
The use of biofertilizer was brought to the fore not only because of the high price of fertilizer but also concerns with availability and supply, the President said.
The country, Mr. Marcos said, has been dependent on non-organic and petroleum-based fertilizers essentially urea, and that’s the reason why the DA conducted trials on biofertilizer, which can be produced in the Philippines.
Mr. Marcos said there were promising results from early tests. Although biofertilizer use entails some cost, it could be brought down especially if it is going to be produced locally.
“They say that it can be produced here in the Philippines. And furthermore, there are many technologies from UPLB (University of the Philippines Los Banos), from the other SUCs (state universities and colleges), the agricultural colleges, they have done a lot of research, they have developed technologies in biofertilizer,” he pointed out.
During his state visit to China last month, the President secured business agreements with Chinese producers to lower the prices of fertilizer, a vital part of his administration’s bid to help farmers and ensure food security.
Two Chinese fertilizer manufacturing companies signed a cooperation agreement with the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), which was seen to ensure a sustainable supply of much-needed fertilizers at reasonable prices.