THE Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has pushed for the strengthening of regulations on imports while of promoting local products of Mindanao.
In a press statement Sunday, Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, MinDA chair, said that there is a need to help local producers, especially those producing agricultural products like meat who have been drastically affected by the coronavirus pandemic, by also ensuring that importing these products is tightly regulated.
“This was the recommendation I submitted during the meeting of the Mindanao Regional Development Council (RDC) chairmen headed by Agusan del Norte Governor Dale Corvera earlier this week,” he said.
The heads of the councils, Pinol said, told him about the appeal of the stakeholders of the agricultural sector, especially rice farmers, who have sought for government support as prices have gone down.
“At the height of harvest, rice farmers in Mindanao say that farm gate prices have dipped to as low as PHP12 per kilo which is equivalent to the production cost. Corn prices have also fallen to as low as PHP10 per kilo from a high of PHP16 before harvest,” the MinDA chair added.
“I recommended that the importation of rice and other products which the local farmers could easily produce and benefit from, should be regulated as we address the economic slowdown brought about by the pandemic,” he said, adding taht the agency has also been urged to submit a comprehensive report on the situation in the agricultural sector in relation to the economic recovery of the island.
“That process (of formulating the report), however, will take months and by the time it is completed, harvest season would be over and the farmers would have lost their shirts again,” he said, adding that there is a need for the sector to take advantage of the present opportunities, like promoting local products, to trigger the economic recovery.
To jumpstart the economic recovery, he explained, is for local producers to be able to gain access to the market instead of allowing imported products to flood it.
He also urged local government officials to also help prompting the “Buy Local” movement to s support the local producers as this will also result not only in better economic opportunities to small and medium enterprises, but will also provide better employment opportunities to their constituents.
“These are suggested solutions which will not cost government anything and will certainly be welcomed by the agriculture and fisheries sector,” he said.