Newly appointed agriculture secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. has pledged to focus on reducing rice importation during his tenure — a commitment made during the Ugnay Palay: 35th National Rice R4D Conference at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Nov. 29.

“Our ultimate goal is to swiftly reduce rice imports for food security and efficiency. We also aim to inspire a new generation of farmers, researchers, and innovators to ensure long-term food security for a prosperous Philippines,” Laurel said.

He emphasized the commitment to not only sustain the projects initiated by the former agriculture secretary, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., but also to undertake initiatives that will alleviate the challenges faced by our farmers and fisherfolk.

The president conveyed his support through a message read by Laurel. The message expressed optimism in the ongoing backing from government agencies, partners, and stakeholders to enhance and fortify the rice industry in alignment with the administration’s goal of a food-secure nation.

“I enjoin all of you to continue working better to ensure that the benefits of our initiatives reach every farmer in our country. As we do this, let us be guided by the science-based strategies presented in the PhilRice Strategic Plan 2023-2028, emphasizing the necessity to educate farmers on modern technologies for integration into their daily work,” Marcos said. 

The president also shared that while rice remains the country’s staple food, equally crucial sectors like livestock, poultry, fisheries, and high-value crops will continue to receive sufficient attention and support from the government to ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of food for our consumers.

“Also, in collaboration with pertinent law enforcement agencies, we will prioritize combating illegal activities related to agricultural produce. Let us continue to unite and work together towards building a more productive and progressive ‘Bagong Pilipinas,'” Marcos added.

More than 500 conference attendees also witnessed the turnover of the Bank of the Philippine Islands foundation grant worth P5.2 million for the RiceBIS Community in Negros Occidental.

The three-day conference serves as a platform for acknowledging achievements in rice research and development and for facilitating discussions among industry stakeholders. The conference aims to gather feedback, advise on relevant initiatives, and identify strategies for the development and promotion of rice and rice-based technologies.

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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