His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
On the thrusts of the Ministry of Agriculture
[Released on June 30, 1981]
In food and agriculture, we are not resting on our laurels. In the past 8 years, we have made great progress in the countryside. We took the bold step of instituting land reform. In food production, we are not only exporting rice, we are self-sufficient in poultry, pork, vegetables, fruits and white corn. One of the major elements in our success was countryside infrastructure such as irrigation, dams, and farm-to market roads. To help the farmer get on his feet, we gave him the technology that has made him produce more, and the extension workers who have helped him understand the new technology. We have given him credit—cheap, non-collateral credit—so that he can afford the new, high input technology. We have developed high yielding seed varieties. We have assured the farmer a just and fair price for his produce by giving him a guaranteed floor price for his goods. Most important, we have institutionalized these elements to make sure that we do not lose what we have gained, that the farmer’s progress is a continuing thing.
Although these are accomplishments of which we are understandably proud, we are aware of the gaps that still exist in the food and agriculture sector. We still need to produce enough feedgrains—sorghum, soyabean, yellow corn and protein substitutes to feed our livestock.
We have been bothered by the rising cost of fertilizer subsidies which we have had to give our farmers in the past two years.
We have been pained by the malnutrition among our people, especially among our pre-school children and pregnant and lactating mothers.
We are impatient at the necessarily limited growth of new exports even as we observe with delight the development of import substitutes. In cooperatives development, we must move on from the organizational phase to actual farmer participation in economic activities.
FOOD AND NUTRITION PLAN
Over the last year and a half, therefore, we have painfully re-examined our deficiencies and quietly drawn up a Food and Nutrition Plan for the 1980s. The FNP is a complex program involving not only accelerated food production but also making sure that we are producing the right food in the right quantities and making these available to the right people, that is, the 38% of our population, some 18 million Filipinos, who get 80% or less of their nutritional requirement. The plan also includes the improvement of the incomes of the disadvantaged so that they have the capacity to purchase these food items.
We presented the FNP for funding before the meeting of the World Bank’s consultative group in Paris last January where it was well received.
Today, as we launch the New Republic, I see it fit to launch this Food and Nutrition Plan which in essence is the fulfillment of our promise of a new society.
The FNP involves the cooperation and support of the entire government structure as it addresses itself to the major issues of corn and other feedgrains, fertilizers, fisheries, nutrition, agro-energy, commercial crops, cooperatives and various support services.
Let us take these one by one.
1. CORN AND ANIMAL FEEDS
Now that we are a rice exporting country, we must turn our attention to another pressing concern—that of producing enough corn and protein substitutes for our rapidly growing livestock population. This means accelerating our production of yellow corn and sorghum (which are interchangeable) fish meal and other protein substitutes and thus put an end to expensive imports.
We have therefore launched an accelerated corn production program and we are pursuing this with the same determination as we did Masagana 99. We call it Masaganang Maisan and it has three levels:
Maisan 22 – a program to increase production of poor com farmers in marginal hilly areas from the present 0.5 to 1.5 metric tons per hectare.
Maisan 77 – the cornerstone of our corn program, involves increasing corn and sorghum production of small lowland farmers from the present 0.86 tons per hectare to three tons per hectare. Maisan 77 is aimed primarily at achieving self-sufficiency in yellow com and sorghum.
Maisan 99 – makes use of the new technology developed by our scientists who, through diligent and purposeful research, have come up with improved seed varieties that allow yields beyond to 5 tons per hectare. To encourage farmers to adopt this hybrid technology, government will subsidize 50% of the cost of hybrid seeds, and increase farmer access to credit. Let there be no doubt about it. Masaganang Maisan is a program of high national priority for which I will hold responsible not only the Ministry of Agriculture, but all the agencies concerned with its implementation, credit, release of funds, procurement, marketing and administration.
In this connection, I recently issued a Letter of Instructions to all concerned (attached).
Our development of protein-substitutes continues. The First Lady has an on-going vermiculture on earthworm program. Earthworms, I am told, are very lucrative sources of animal feed protein. We have therefore launched a program to go into the full scale production of earthworms for animal feed.
Copra meal is another protein substitute, primarily for soyabean meal which we have had to import in great quantities. I have directed the Philippine Coconut Authority to undertake the steps necessary to make more copra meal available as a protein feed ingredient. Ipil-ipil will also be used increasingly as a protein substitute as its supply increases.
Fish meal has been elusive, even in this a country of 7,000 islands and rich fishing grounds. I therefore order the Ministry of Natural Resources to find out how to ensure an increased supply of local fish meal which is our most important source of animal protein, and finally end expensive imports.
Our corn and feedgrains program is heavily dependent on another distressed industry-fertilizers and pesticides—two very expensive but most necessary inputs in modern agriculture.
2. FERTILIZERS AND OTHER INPUTS
Much of our dramatic increase in agricultural production can be attributed to the increase in fertilizer usage. However, as you know, the prices of fertilizer follow the prices of oil. As oil prices have gone up, so have fertilizer prices tended to follow. To protect the farmers from spiraling prices that would otherwise put fertilizers out of their reach, we have had to subsidize the cost of fertilizers for the past two years. In the past years, this subsidy has grown from zero to P686 million, causing us serious financial drawbacks.
We have had, however, to maintain these subsidies in order to keep fertilizer usage at recommended levels. If because of high prices a farmer reduces fertilizer use by one kilo, his palay production will drop by 15 kilos. This could set back palay production by 342,700 MT worth P738 million, and bring us back to the dark days of rice importation. On the other hand, our fertilizer subsidy, which has benefitted some 3 million small farmers, has enabled us to effectively keep the price of rice down so that today, the price of rice is, in real terms, only 75% of the price we paid for it in 1972.
Clearly, however, we have to reduce fertilizer imports and our subsidy bill without increasing prices to farmers too much. At the same time, we must search for cheap, efficient, locally available substitutes even as we make more efficient use of chemical fertilizers.
Deep placement approach. I am pleased to announce that we now have the technology to reduce fertilizer usage by using the deep placement approach. By simply putting the nitrogen fertilizer under the ground, by the plant’s roots, instead of broadcasting it on the soil, we have been able to reduce nitrogen application by around 30%, without a reduction in yields. At the current subsidy of P900 per ton of urea, subsidy savings from rice alone could amount to P40.5 million per year.
We are now embarking on a major drive to get our rice farmers to adopt this new technology for the deep placement approach in order to drastically reduce fertilizer imports and subsidies. We are even now developing farm machinery for more efficient use of this approach but in the meantime we are getting farmers to use traditional soil preparation techniques to place fertilizer under the soil.
Azolla. At the same time, I am pleased to announce that after two years of research, the Ministry of Agriculture and IRRI are now launching a nationwide fertilizer program based on a nitrogen-fixing plant called azolla. When applied intensively, azolla could reduce nitrogen use in rice during the rainy season by as much as 25% in three years. Based on present prices, this would mean a substantial savings in our fertilizer subsidies.
Pyrethrum. At the same time, we are looking into pyrethrum, a natural pesticide extracted from plants grown extensively in Africa today. This will help reduce our large pesticide bills.
Subsidies limited to small farmers. The fertilizer subsidy under which we are now laboring was originally devised to aid the small farmer. However, we have allowed the entire farming sector, including the more profitable segments, to benefit from it. I think it is time to put a stop to that. I hereby announce that all export plantation industries must now import their own fertilizer requirements, with no subsidies or tax exemptions. This means that the fertilizer subsidy is now limited to small rice, corn and coconut farmers. For the moment, this rule shall not include the sugar and coconut industries, which are still in distress. However, the policy will apply to sugar and coconut as soon as world prices for these commodities reach levels profitable for farmers.
Savings From Procurement and Handling Efficiencies. Despite our efforts to reduce the usage of and subsidies for chemical fertilizers, we must realize that we will still need continuous imports of these very basic production inputs. During my term I intend to reduce these imports and to eliminate the fertilizer subsidy without substantially increasing the prices of fertilizer to the farmer.
The reality is that we cannot totally eliminate our dependence an chemical fertilizers—if we are to maintain our gains in the past 8 years. Even China, which is the world leader in the use of azolla, has just completed 12 ammonia—urea plants.
In our desire however to reduce and eventually totally eliminate fertilizer subsidies, I have directed the FPA to generate savings through advanced procurement in this present time of rising prices and to secure stable supplies from our ASEAN neighbors based on low priced gas.
In this regard, I am told that if government finances 50% of our urea imports immediately, while prices are low, we stand to save about P49 million in actual savings on financing. I have therefore ordered the Central Bank to find ways and means of financing some P300 million needed by the PNB immediately for advanced urea imports.
Moreover, the FPA has been ordered to effect basic changes in the industry—such as bulk purchases and local bagging—which will reduce our fertilizer costs even more
A major part of our fertilizer program is to ensure security of supply from our gas-rich neighbors—Malaysia and Indonesia, hopefully at fixed and stable long term prices. This will go a long way toward helping small farmers reduce their production costs in this period of extreme inflation.
With all of these measures and new technologies, we should be able to save some 70,000 tons of imports or about 23% of our total imports of urea which in addition to the cost savings we intend to generate, will reduce our subsidies by at least P150 million pesos a year, by the 3rd year of our program.
Fish is our most important source of animal protein, both for human consumption as well as for animal feed, as I mentioned earlier,
While our fish production has increased in the past decade, rising costs of fuel–which represent as much as 50-60% of total cost of a marine vessel—is a major bottleneck. Going after the fish, therefore, “hunting” for them in our seas and coastal waters is getting to be an increasingly expensive venture.
While we will, of course, continue to expand our Biyaya ng Dagat Program, aquaculture (both inland aquaculture or sea-farming) is the only long-run answer for fish self-sufficiency. In the same manner that we now grow our chicken and hogs instead of hunting for them as man did in the past, we must now grow our fish. From “hunting” for our fish, we should move towards baiting and trapping them. The payao, is an example of this transition. It gathers the fish together, the way the hunter progressed into a trapper.
We must therefore move increasingly, and quickly, into aquaculture, by progressing from trapper to grower. To give this thrust a boost, I hereby order Minister Leido to work out immediately the details for an extensive aquaculture program.
In our deep concern for the malnourished children in our midst, we have often been misunderstood by the foreign press, which has pictured our country as being among the most malnourished in the world.
The truth is, in our desire to ensure adequate nutrition for each and every Filipino, we are one of the few nations in the world which has accurately measured its nutrition problem, and has taken the bold step of eliminating malnutrition with a food and nutrition plan. We will be the first nation in the world to have done so, if we succeed.
We know precisely who our malnourished are, where they are, how we can help them. We know that while our successes in agricultural production have brought about improved farmer welfare and nutrition throughout the country in general, there remain segments of our population who remain malnourished. Despite further gains which will be achieved through the various production programs I have already mentioned, there will continue to be those who, because of limited resource endowments and the limited capacity to help themselves, will continue to need special attention from the government, if they are to be adequately fed.
Let it be known, that our efforts in nutrition under the New Republic, stand among the silent testimonies of our concern for the future. We will safeguard coming generations of Filipinos by making sure that there will be no stunting of brain development due to malnutrition—among today’s preschoolers; that our pregnant women and lactating mothers are adequately fed so that they may give birth to strong and bright new Filipinos.
Our goal is to completely eradicate all malnutrition in our country in this decade primarily by using our existing resources.
The First Lady’s KADIWA program has helped thousands of consumers all over the country since it started a few months ago. Consumers have been able to buy more for less. To help our malnourished, we will use Kadiwa to target the malnourished and the poorest in our midst. KADIWA will operate in every municipality where pre-school malnutrition is most prevalent. Thru its own and normal trade channels, Kadiwa channel surplus rice stocks to specifically identified and targetted beneficiaries. Rice will be sold to them at greatly discounted prices, in order to effect increased energy consumption among the seriously malnourished and at-risk. Coconut oil, which we also have very much in surplus, will be also placed within the reach of the malnourished, thru drastically reduced prices, as another vehicle for increasing energy food consumption.
If we are able to do this, we shall have become among the first—if not the only—country in the world to have achieved this noble objective. Certainly, this is possible in our country, where there is a perceptible environment of sharing, of brotherhood, of “KADIWA”.
5. COMMERCIAL CROPS
As you are well aware, the increases in oil prices have created major balance of payments problems in many nations in the world. “We have not been spared by the effects of these price increases. Even as we develop the food and feed commodities, therefore, we will continue to direct our attention towards our commercial crops, those export crops that earn for our country much-needed foreign exchange. We succeeded in making bananas a major export. We will do it again with other commercial crops.
Right now, we are pushing the growth of cacao and coffee as export crops. Already, we have launched a cacao program as an intercrop, to coconut. We have been hugely successful in this. Our program already now covers 20,000 hectares. We expect cacao to become a major export revenue earner within a few years.
Coffee production is also, literally, gaining ground in Mindanao. Very quietly, our coffee exports have grown. Hardly anyone has noticed that our coffee hectarage is already around 170,000 hectares and that two years ago, we exported coffee valued at $43 million.
Other commercial crops that we are pushing are mango and other fruits, rubber, and abaca. Cotton, which up to a few years ago was virtually extinct in our country, has taken off. Starting this season, cotton hectarage will cover 25,000 hectares in over 30 provinces. This means two things: a substantial decrease, in cotton imports, and increased income for the farmer. This crop year, we have bought P60M worth of cotton from farmers.
Agriculture has now also been tapped to contribute to meeting the country’s energy needs through the development of traditional as well as non-traditional energy producing commodities.
Cassava, sweet potato, white potato and sugar, aside from their obvious uses, are now being grown for use in the manufacture of alcogas.
Ipil-ipil trees which we introduced for reforestation for its quick growth and deep roots that prevent erosion is now being used for dendro thermal energy. I have instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to intensify the propagation of ipil-ipil trees for dendro thermal energy.
We have launched a program for developing an oil-bearing plant known as “hangga”. To date, we have planted 45 hectares of this heretofore unheard of plant, which we have now identified as an important energy source. Within 2 years, we will have “hangga” planted over 100,000 hectares to produce enough fuel to cover 10% of energy consumption in all households.
7. INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
To oversee the ambitious design of the elements which I have cited here today, we need a vigorous Ministry of Agriculture, functioning with the extensive and intensive support of all other related institutions in government.
To strengthen the MA as it guides the agriculture sector towards clear, defined, commodity and welfare goals, we are significantly expanding the Ministry’s internal capabilities over the next five years. Thus, we are improving the Ministry’s extension network and services with a $35 million loan from the World Bank. By the end of 1982, we shall have an agricultural extension force which is much better trained, equipped, and mobile-to service the needs of our farmers. Ours will be one of the best agricultural/extension forces in the world.
We are also beefing up the research capabilities of the Ministry of Agriculture. Under the recently negotiated Agricultural Support Services Project, the World Bank will be extending assistance amounting to $46M, for the strengthening of the Ministry’s research, regulatory services, supply of selected inputs, and planning capability.
Crowning our thrusts in agriculture for this decade is the redirection of the cooperative movement from its seven-year task of organization, to the very pressing matter of transforming cooperatives into small business enterprises at the village level.
During the past 7 years, we succeeded in organising over 1 million farmers into more than 20,000 Samahang Nayons at the barangay level. We trained 140,000 farmer-leaders all over the country. Through a massive savings program these Samahang Nayons have been able to generate from their own meager funds a total of P100 million.
What remains to be done is to translate these resources—organization, leadership, and capital—into economic activities which will yield increasing returns to farmer-members.
We have already successfully set up 43 marketing cooperatives and 25 cooperative rural banks. From both our domestic resources and from foreign loans, we have allotted P150M for this year alone, towards making these institutions more viable. But we see our success in these province-based institutions as a mere stepping stone towards fulfilling the potential for increasing incomes through cooperatives at the barangay or village-level.
We are therefore launching, at this point, a massive barangay or village-level cooperatives program aimed at increasing production output and reducing cost of production. This is a major “self-help” program with government assisting farmers to help themselves through their own village cooperatives.
Henceforth, it is the policy of the state to encourage Samahang Nayons to undertake economic activities which correspond to the needs of their respective barangays. They can undertake, for example, economically viable projects in communal irrigation, tractor pools, drying, threshing, and other post harvest facilities. They can go into projects for cooperative fishing activities, such as in the use of the payao. In short, they can engage in a broad range of economic activities on a barangay scale to increase production and incomes and reduce underemployment in the rural areas.
To support these village-level Samahang Nayons, I have ordered the Central Bank to release P100 million in financial resources to match the P100 million already raised by the farmers themselves.
Through the cooperative movement, and now these small business enterprises of the Samahang Nayons we are building—slowly but surely—a nation of strong self-reliant individuals working jointly, with a common vision and the sure strength of millions towards a common goal.
These, ladies and gentlemen, are our major thrusts in food and agriculture for the coming years. Let it be known to all that the Food and Nutrition Plan which I have launched today, is now a major pillar of the New Republic. Let all concerned act according to its policies and its goals.
Source: Presidential Museum and Library
Marcos, F. E. (1981). Speeches by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. [Manila] : Presidential Library.