Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. on Wednesday (November 29) said the government under the leadership of President Ferdinand R.Marcos, Jr. is focused on improving rice production and reducing post harvest losses through science and technology. 

During his visit to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija, Laurel told rice experts and scientists on the importance of harmonized efforts from all sectors to attain food sufficiency.

“We just have to focus our efforts and synchronize with each other in implementing our rice programs with all agencies, local government units, and stakeholders,” Laurel said.

The dream of being rice sufficient is achievable, Laurel said. 

“We just have to work in harmony.” 

According to Laurel, he would not take the Cabinet post and taken the responsibility if he didn’t see any hope in the agriculture sector.  

Following the directive of President Marcos to increase rice production, Laurel announced that the Department of Agriculture will launch a massive modernization program to increase rice recovery after milling from 62 percent and lessen wastage after harvest.

Laurel also committed to look into the staffing of PhilRice, and bring in more employees to its current 297 personnel, as well as scientists to help improve the Philippine rice sector.  

PhilRice executive director John de Leon said the agency now employs 1,500 as contractual workers, many of them highly capable in their respective fields.

With 140-hectares and eight stations throughout the country, Laurel recognized that PhilRice is severely undermanned, especially for its central role in producing seeds and developing technology that would help increase rice output. ### (Adora D. Rodriguez, DA-AFID)