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“Persistence and pragmatism are needed for policies and politics.”

Thus, stressed Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, deputy director-general for communication and partnerships of the International Rice Research Institute, during the 15th Santiago R. Obien seminar series on research management and institution.

In his lecture titled, Policies, politics, persistence, and pragmatism: Experiences in research-based policy reform, delivered at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Tolentino emphasized the values owing to the complex nature of economic policy-making in a democratic environment.

“Policies are always political and we`ve got to be sensitive to the politics or policies we would like to implement. You need to be persistent because overtime, you’ve got to keep working on the same key issues and in that process, you need to be pragmatic,” he said.

Tolentino said that the key elements in political economy include focus and sustained attention; thorough analysis and metrics; flexibility and timing; communication and perception; reform champions, coalition-building and mobilization; and implementation assistance.

When it comes to metrics in helping farmers increase their income, Tolentino said that the farm household and the farm family should be considered.

“Knowing that a household gets more income from outside the farm instead from the farm itself, then, we should focus on what we`re good at,” he said.

He explained that all commodity agencies should focus on productivity – their basic mission, which is a metric for performance measurement.

“Focusing on our principal priority of productivity means that added all up, we can generate a set of influences that benefit the farm family as a whole,” he said.

Tolentino`s policy reform involvements include, among other things, food security strategy, rice buffer stock policy, private sector development, land use planning/zoning, inter-island shipping, specialized lending, structural adjustment, agricultural and agrarian reform,  and trade/tariff liberalization.

He joined IRRI in 2012 to serve as the lead point of liaison between the Philippine government and the institute.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute