An all out-war against smugglers of agriculture products will be embarked by the new leadership of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to protect local producers.
This was the vow of incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol as he disclosed that smuggling will not prosper if there will be no connivance between importers and Customs officials.
Piñol who visited and confer with outgoing DA Secretary Proceso Alcala along with his transition team recently said that smugglers heydays should be addressed once he takes over the DA on July 1.
“We will curb smuggling of rice, onions, garlic and other agriculture products and this will be given a boost since we have a good relationship with the new Customs chief,” Piñol said.
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has appointed former military rebel and Magdalo group Marine Capt. Nicanor “Nick” Faeldon as the new head of the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
Piñol revealed that Faeldon is supposed to be with him at the DA but the incoming president appointed him to the BoC which is good because he will have a direct contact with him against smuggling.
The DA and the National Food Authority (NFA) has been accused of knowing rice smuggling activities but did nothing to stop it.
Apparently, traders who were issued import permits by the DA were the same people behind rice smuggling and Agriculture Secretary Alcala allegedly knew about it which was denied by the outging DA chief.
Piñol said the permit being issued to import rice, onions and garlic are being used several times which is technical smuggling and should be done away with.
He disclosed that with him at the helm he will surely introduce new things that would ensure the eradication of smuggling and the assurance that there would be enough supply of food for the country.
Piñol said that as a farmer and a former mediaman himself he is devising things like interconnecting relevant government agencies into the National Food Security Council.
He said that after El Niño, drought, the country is faced with La Niña thus the DA should have a close relationship with the state bureau Pagasa for the actual weather forcast for the right crop to plant and the like.
“We have to attain rice sufficiency, we will refocus our programs to essential things to food production,” Pinol said.
He said they are also looking into the possibility of giving irrigation for free to the farmers as they have to reduce the cost of production otherwise foood production will not be attained and importation will remain.
However, Piñol said with the advent of climate change rice producting countries such as Thailand and Vietnam are also suffering shortage of production thus the country should not focus on importation but supply sufficiency.