By Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said on Saturday the government’s proposed industry road map to make 23 provinces shift from planting rice to other crops and hog-raising should be carefully studied.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

The road map proposed 23 non-priority rice provinces would be transitioned to various commodities and industries, such as abaca, banana, cassava, cattle, coconut, high-value vegetables, livestock, poultry, and rubber.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,’’ according to Pangilinan who served as presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization in the previous administration.

Pangilinan said policymakers must be able to understand this concept, especially in its thrust to strengthen local production for food security and self-sufficiency.

The entry of imported rice should all the more prompt the government to boost the rice farmers’ production and well-being.

Hindi kumpleto ang araw ng Pilipino kung walang kanin. Kaya ang tanong: Papano pa tayo kakain ng kanin kung hindi na magtatanim ang ating mga magpapalay?’’ he asked. (The day is not complete without rice. How can we eat rice if our farmers do not plant palay?)

Pangilinan said the country is experiencing the lowest palay prices in eight years.

‘’In a privilege speech on August 13, we echoed the alarm that our rice farmers were sounding for the then worsening crisis that would peak during the wet harvest season.,’’ he said.

‘’We are here now: The average farm-gate price of unhusked rice has slid to its lowest in eight years at P15.96 for the third week September, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA),’’ he added.