In his first press briefing as the newly appointed Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary, Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. addressed the P20 per kilogram of rice promised by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. during his 2022 campaign, stating that achieving this price is not currently feasible.
Laurel acknowledged that the department is working toward making rice more affordable by the end of 2024 but emphasized that this task is challenging.
“The P20 per kilo was an aspiration, ‘di ba? Ang problem now, we are in the 15-year high sa world market…Today that is not possible. But with ‘yung directive ni Presidente to modernize, irrigate, use the right seeds, mechanize, and all of that, maraming gagawin, we are getting ready to do our best, to try to make rice affordable na kayang kaya ng bulsa ng mamamayan,” he said.
“But of course, modernizing is not easy. May procurement process, may gano’n [there’s procurement process and such]. So it might take a little time, but we will do it as fast as possible,” he added.
Laurel expressed that what is achievable is reducing the price of rice, although he didn’t specify the exact target price.
P20 per kilo of rice impossible today – new DA chief
“It is possible to lower the price, definitely. But we have to have our silos, we have to have buffer stock, we have to change some laws, I believe,” he said.
Marcos had emphasized that achieving the P20 per kilogram price for rice is contingent on improving the value chain, which involves the various stages in producing a product or service, each contributing to its value.
Laurel, who assumed the position of DA secretary after Marcos, stated that the President’s directive to him is to enhance production across all agricultural sectors, with a particular focus on rice.
“Basically, ang directive ni President Marcos is to increase production in almost all sectors ng agrikultura, all commodities. But of course may special emphasis sa bigas — modernize, irrigate, fertilize, and use the right type of seeds as soon as possible,” he said.