Pathetically disquieting that, while we have a chief magistrate charmed by three “dreams” for the agriculture sector of this country of 114 million people, there are portentous nightmares right on the front yard of his vision, his pie in the sky as it were.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who also heads the Department of Agriculture, has admitted in his weekly vlog these three are: sustainable livelihood for farmers, food security, and affordable food for all – so that the next generations will be encouraged to sustain this industry.
The 64-year-old leader, whose experience as governor of his home province of Ilocos Norte which brought agriculture close to his heart, said he would also want the country to attain food self-sufficiency by prioritizing local production over food importation, and as much as possible not relying on other countries.
And third, his holy grail is he wants food to be affordable for all Filipinos amid rising food prices and impending shortages, and that there will be no more hungry Filipinos.
He was correct, or nearly correct, that that is the dream of every Filipino – from Batanes down to Tawi Tawi.
He correctly pointed out that the problems faced by the agriculture sector affect not just farmers and fisherfolk but every Filipino family who had suffered heavily during the pandemic which started in mid March 2020 – infecting and killing hundreds of thousands while forcing several stages of lock downs in the metropolis and in the countryside.
The President correctly said the domestic economy, against rising global uncertainty and inflationary pressures, has a baseline forecast for growth to slow from 6.1 percent last year to 3.2 percent in 2022, 0.4 percentage point lower than in the April 2022 outlook.
Admittedly, the economy depends on healthy and strong workers, with Preasident Marcos pointing up that more than any medicine and vitamins, “the nutritious and affordable food is the one that should not be missing from the dining table of every home.”
Alongside his dreams, he directed the Department of Trade and Industry to provide cheaper fertilizers for farmers, with the government looking for “non-traditional” sources of fertilizer to help ensure that affordable fertilizers are available in the market.
Then like a bolt out of the blue came the knifelike reports on the illegal importation of white onions into the country, as if chasing the unsavory unlawful resolution approving the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.
The disclosure by presidential sibling Senator Imee Marcos was done after the Bureau of Customs seized the P36 million worth of onions in Misamis Oriental, declared as “spring roll patti” and “plain churros.”
Senator Marcos is on course, absent any potent persuasion that there is indeed a shortage of white onions while inventories during the planting and harvesting seasons are missing.
At present the retail price of 1 kilo white onions in Manila sells for P270-400, according to one report from the Department of Agriculture which had been urged by President Marcos to decide whether there is really a shortage of white onions in the country.
Let’s awake and not nod off.