President Bongbong Marcos taking over the helm at the Department of Agriculture indubitably signals this administration’s priority to agriculture.
This is a welcome development, but the President needs an operations man at the Agriculture Department who would ensure this administration’s shift to agriculture self-sufficiency and food security, the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC) said in a statement Tuesday.
The group said the President may not need to look far as there are trustworthy officials at the DA who unfortunately have been ignored by the pro-importation, former Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“Bringing in an outsider may have its merits, but an insider who understands the real mandate of the department would be better,” added the consumer group.
Upon the group’s review, “the current Undersecretary for Operations Engr. Ariel T. Cayanan may fit the bill,” said the NCFC.
Cayanan concurrently heads the National Rice and National Corn programs and has shown a record of pushing food security policies and strategies, but may have been used as a “sacrificial lamb” in alleged smuggling deals, the group added.
The National Rice and National Corn programs are vital in the country’s agriculture sufficiency and food security efforts.
With the powers and guidance of the less than the President himself, Cayanan, one of the most senior officials at the DA, could easily operationalize the new policy thrust of the administration, which is increasing investment for the farmers to spur domestic agriculture productivity.
“To achieve food self-sufficiency targets, the DA needs to work double-time as sufficient food production from agriculture and agriculture value chain improvements are vital in keeping prices of food affordable at a time when fuel price hikes create a chain reaction of price increases,” the group said.
Usec. Cayanan headed the agency’s task force during the COVID-19 quarantine period. His main functions included assuring sufficient food supplies from the production areas to the consumers.
Cayanan also focused on the DA’s Special Area for Agricultural Development Program, a locally funded program that aims to help alleviate poverty among the marginalized sectors of agriculture and fishery. Following its successful implementation, SAAD was proposed to pass legislation and be institutionalized.
The dynamic Cayanan was also the National Project Director of the Philippine Rural Development Project, a scientific program that identifies the implementation of agriculture infrastructure projects. The same program also focused on helping the cooperative sector to ensure their sustainable progress.
Cayanan also headed the Inter-Agency Task Force on Food Security during the global health pandemic.