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P20 per kg rice still achievable: Neda
Published on: Thursday, August 24, 2023
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P20 per kg rice still achievable: Neda
MANILA: The National Economic Development Authority (Neda) on Wednesday said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s promise of rice at P20 per kilo is still possible.Neda Secretary Arsenio however also qualified that this would only be possible if agriculture productivity improved as the country needed to do a “lot of catching up” on the matter.

Balisacan also declined to provide a timeline for when this can be achieved, saying that this could “not be done overnight.” “Our position has always been that we need to increase productivity in agriculture. What drives low prices are increases in productivity,” said Balisacan in a Palace briefing.  The Neda chief added that to substantially the productivity of farms, the country needs to invest in irrigation, modern high-yielding varieties, pest controls and logistics.

“We are not in control of so many things, assuming that we made progress in raising productivity, you should be able to increase the purchasing power,” he said.

Meanwhile, he lamented how the country “neglected” the agriculture sector “for decades,” which the administration is trying to reverse now. The Neda chief also cited the importance of partnership with the private sector in terms of facilities and the building of more durable irrigation systems. It was also important to develop varieties that are resilient to climate change and flooding. “I can’t say that, “Oh, by next we should be able to…” that’s asking for the moon, you know. It’s… you know, that’s not going to happen because as I said, there’s so much catchup thing to do,” he said. Balisacan’s statement came after Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian admitted it was “hard” to attain Marcos’ campaign promise to bring down rice prices to P20 per kilo. “We never promised,” he said. Since assuming the presidency last year, Marcos has repeatedly said that his government would fulfill his campaign promise of reducing rice prices to P20 per kilo. Farmers’ groups have said that the promise was “impossible” to achieve.

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