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Agri chief, governors of top rice-producing provinces meet to push grain output

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. on Friday, November 17, met with the governors of the top 10 rice-producing provinces in the country to help increase grain supply, reduce imports, and lower prices of the national food staple.

Governors from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao who gathered in San Juan City welcomed Secretary Laurel’s initiative, saying the consultative meeting was a good first step towards a concerted effort to boost rice production.

Secretary Laurel has pledged to meet groups involved in agriculture as part of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s vision of modernizing agriculture to ensure the country is food secure, farm products are reasonably priced, and farmers and fishermen are lifted out of poverty. The 10 provinces account for 48 percent of the country’s total rice production.

“I really appreciate Secretary Kiko’s effort to touch base with stakeholders,” said Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, whose province is the biggest producer of rice, accounting for 9 percent of national production.

“This is the first time that local government units are being given the opportunity to address the concerns of their respective provinces. I believe that this kind of leadership he is starting will benefit not only my province but also the country’s food security,” he added.

Isabela Governor Rodolfo Albano III said the meeting would foster cooperation among various stakeholders in rice production.

“Maganda ang resulta. Kasi iyan ang unang-una — dapat, makipag-usap si Secretary sa mga stakeholders na tulad namin. Maganda yung ginagawa niya, tulungan. Kung may mga makakatulong sa kanya, magagawa natin ang mga programa, maaayos natin lahat,” said Albano. (The meeting turned out well. Because that should be the first priority, for the Secretary to sit down with stakeholders. The cooperation he is engendering is welcome. With those who can help him, we will be able to implement the programs. We will be able to put things in order.)”

Maguindanao del Sur Governor Bai Mariam Mangudadatu said she looks forward to the mechanization farm process that should help increase rice yields in her province.

“It’s a very good start for the secretary na nakausap niya yung