June 17, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Marcos-Manet meeting to help ensure ample rice supply amid El Niño threat

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Monday said the bilateral meeting between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet would help ensure the country has ample rice supply amid the threat posed by El Niño phenomenon.

Romualdez was among the officials who accompanied Marcos during his meeting with the Cambodian Prime Minister on the sidelines of the 50th ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne. 

According to the Speaker, the two leaders discussed a variety of issues aimed at enhancing mutual trade and investment, and at fostering stronger economic ties, particularly focusing on sectors such as rice trade and tourism.

“By diversifying our sources of rice importation and strengthening partnerships with fellow ASEAN member states like Cambodia, we can mitigate the adverse effects of external factors such as climate change-induced phenomena like El Niño,” Romualdez said.

“While we are making significant strides towards achieving rice self-sufficiency, prudence dictates that we should provide contingency measures to ensure people would have adequate rice supply at the best possible price if our local production falls short of expectation,” he added.

The Speaker noted that while the Department of Agriculture has assured enough supply of the staple grain up to the first half of the year, prices may remain high through September due to the potential effects of El Niño on the global rice supply and a spike in demand. 

As of Feb. 29, the damage to the country’s agriculture sector due to the impact of the El Niño phenomenon has increased to over P941 million, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Among the areas that sustained the most agricultural damage due to El Niño include Western Visayas, Mimaropa, Ilocos, Calabarzon and Zamboanga. 

“Cambodia has long been recognized for its expertise in rice cultivation and production, and its willingness to support the Philippines in addressing its rice supply concerns is deeply appreciated,” Romualdez said.

“Moving forward, we fully support President Marcos, Jr’s initiative to work closely with Cambodia and other ASEAN allies to ensure a stable and resilient food supply chain,” he added. 

Romualdez was also with the President during his bilateral meeting with PM Hun Manet on the sidelines of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Indonesia on September 2023.

It was during the meeting in Indonesia that Marcos raised the possibility of sourcing rice from Cambodia as well as further boosting commercial aviation between the two countries.

According to Cambodian officials, their country is targeting to get a 1 percent share of the market of imported rice in the Philippines by 2024 and encouraged stakeholders to sustain and make more efforts to increase rice exports to the Philippines.

Romualdez has been actively supporting the administration of Marcos in its effort to provide adequate and affordable rice to Filipinos. 

In August last year, Romualdez secured the commitment of Vietnam to provide the Philippines with a stable supply of rice at affordable prices in affirmation of the strong friendly relations between the two countries.

This occurred during Romualdez’ side meeting with Vuong Dinh Hue, President of the National Assembly of Vietnam on the eve of the formal opening of the 44th AIPA (ASEAN Parliamentary Assembly) general assembly in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

In response to the challenge of Marcos, the Speaker launched the Cash and Rice Distribution program (CARD) in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, to provide indigents with cheaper but quality rice, along with money for other food items, delivered through the country’s congressional districts. 

Romualdez has also initiated a congressional investigation over suspected smuggling and hoarding of rice to control supply and induce an artificial spike in the prices of the staple food