Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol welcomes the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to return the supervision of the National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“We will perform the task and rise up to the challenge,” Piñol said in a statement after Malacañang disclosed the President’s order on Tuesday.
As such, the agriculture chief has ordered measures to be implemented right away for the NFA, such as ensuring that it has a buffer stock for a minimum of 60 days, strengthening local palay procurement, conducting surgical rice distribution, and importing rice “in a transparent and above board process” to ensure there is no corruption.
The NFA has recently been plagued by the problem of depleting affordable rice stocks for distribution to the masses.
Piñol, meanwhile, has ordered the PCA to prioritize the coconut scale insect or “cocolisap” problem in Mindanao, intensify the replanting program in the cocolisap-infested areas, and integrate the high-value crops program to the coconut development program.
For the FPA, the agriculture secretary has ordered the review of regulations that cover the pricing of fertilizers and pesticides, and to strengthen safeguards against the entry of dangerous and harmful chemicals used as herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.
He said strengthening NFA’s local palay procurement would protect Filipino farmers while conducting a “surgical rice distribution operations to address rising rice prices.”
Executive Order 165 of 2014 transferred the supervision of the NFA, PCA, FPA, and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) from the DA to the Office of the President, citing the need to enhance and coordinate the offices’ respective efforts.
The NFA and the PCA, among other 10 agencies, were then placed under the Office of the Cabinet Secretary through Executive Order No. 01 on June 30, 2016.
Piñol said the return of NFA, PCA, and FPA to DA would further strengthen the department’s capability to undertake its mission of making affordable food available to Filipinos.
“I and my fellow workers in DA thank President Duterte for his trust and confidence in us,” he said. “As Agriculture Secretary and on behalf of people working with me, we accept the added responsibility and challenge.”
The DA currently has control over the Agriculture Credit and Policy Council, Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries, National Meat Inspection Service, Philippine Carabao Center, and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization. (PNA)