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President Benigno S. Aquino III said the country will be rice self-sufficient in 2013 with the efficient and honest administration of government agencies and cooperation of the Filipinos.

In a speech delivered by Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Proceso J. Alcala during the recent 27th anniversary of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Nueva Ecija, Aquino said the country would not only achieve enough rice but would also export the staple next year.

“Before, million tons of rice were left to rot in warehouses owing to mismanagement. Now, through honest and efficient administration and favorable weather… we will also be exporting rice in 2013,” the President said.

Aquino also said ministers of agriculture from the international community recognized Filipinos from International Rice Research Institute, PhilRice, University of Philippines in Los Baños, and Central Luzon State University as experts in teaching agriculture.

“We are praised as experts, but we import rice from the countries we have taught. This is troubling. But in a straight and righteous path (tuwid na daan), this scenario will end soon,” he said.

Aquino, who was advised to cancel his trip to the province’s Science City of Muñoz owing to bad weather, said the country would be rice self-sufficient as PhilRice had steadfastly lived up to its mandate of producing quality and adequate seeds to the farmers.

He also said that DA’s dedication in finding solutions and Filipinos’ diligence and perseverance had led to better status in the rice sector.

With improved performance in agriculture, Aquino announced that the department’s budget will be increased to more than 20 percent or P74.1 billion next year.

“It’s only just to give performing agencies the opportunities to continue delivering appropriate services to the people. But those agencies with staff who only sit and do nothing the whole day must start thinking. If you can’t provide the people with good quality service, you have no place in government service,” he said.

To further show government’s commitment in boosting the rice sector, 2013 was publicly proclaimed as National Year of Rice during the 27th PhilRice anniversary.

“We have declared 2013 as National Year of Rice to speed up rice self-sufficiency. However, this declaration would just be a piece of paper without the support of the Filipinos. This initiative would only succeed if each of us would contribute to the goal,” Aquino stressed.

PhilRice also hosted the Gawad Saka ceremonies, in which the government recognized 25  individuals and groups for their contributions to nation-building. Winners received P100,000-150,000 and a trophy.

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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