On the matter of production and marketing projections, our Secretary of Agriculture seems to be overly aggressive in his estimates.
Nobody beats DA secretary and President Bongbong Marcos in optimism especially about economic matters.
As a presidential candidate in early 2022, Marcos toyed with the idea of lowering the price of rice to P20 per kilo in case he wins. Thousands of voters took the bait and voted for Bongbong and Sara Duterte, with the hope that someday BBM may be able to deliver on his promise about the price of rice.
Little did these voters know that in September of 2023, this President would be compelled by circumstances to impose a price ceiling on this very staple — P41 for regular milled rice and P45 for well milled rice, way above his dream of twenty pesos. Well, it is good that the rice harvests in Central Luzon and the rest of the country seem bountiful so that the price of rice in the market has achieved some level of stability, paving the way for the Palace to remove the price ceiling.
During the first couple of weeks of the Marcos administration, PBBM and Finance Secretary Ben Diokno announced overly optimistic numbers that the economy would aim to achieve going forward.
Of course, the continuing war in Ukraine, the ever-increasing prices of oil, the snags in the value chain, high interests rates that became even higher in the government's desire to tame inflation -- these factors and the general inability of the government to cope conspire to make Bongbong and Diokno's dream figures unattainable.
The next tall order from the DA secretary-Malacanang top honcho is the planting and replanting of some 100 million coconut trees by 2028.
The President wants a concrete plan for the coconut industry to seize the "big opportunity" in coconut, the country's traditional cash crop. Marcos wants to plant 100 million trees by 2028.
Malacañang said the president had a meeting with officials of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) where they discussed the proposed massive tree-planting project.
Under the plan, the PCA seeks to plant 20 to 25 million trees every year from 2023 to 2028, a few decades after it launched the same initiative. (LOOK: Less than 3 months is left until the year 2023 expires.)
However, Marcos said political terms should not bar the agency from continuing the rehabilitation and development program.
The PCA is proposing to issue a memorandum of agreement with local government units, with the latter implementing coconut planting and replanting, seed farm development, and coconut fertilization, to name a few.
According to the Palace, the country has 3.6 million hectares planted with coconut trees, with 340.6 million coconut-bearing trees capable of producing 14 to 15 billion nuts annually.
It added that the Philippines "remains the biggest exporter of coconut products," posting an export value of $3.22 billion in 2022.
We hope PBBM succeeds in this coconut planting frenzy, and not only because Calumpang in Tayabas City where I write, will benefit much from this program, just like the whole of the city and the provinces of Quezon, Laguna and Batangas.
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