Senior Consulting Expert of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)
I would like to share my thoughts about current challenges and opportunities in agriculture that institutions like Visayas State University (VSU) should be concerned. I could not over emphasize the fact that we are facing the problem of producing sufficient food to feed the ever increasing population of our country. Last census reported that our population is increasing by 2.3 percent, while our food production (particularly rice) is increasing by about 2.5 percent. The minimal growth difference between population and food production is not sufficient to provide the other requirements of small farmers to live a decent life. I hope the current census will show a decline in population growth so that we will have a better breathing space. (If you have not yet been interviewed by the census takers, you better do so otherwise you may not get your ration of rice!). Furthermore, some recent reports show that the per capita rice consumption in the Philippines has been increasing from less than 100 kg/year several years ago to almost 120 kg/year currently which suggest that some people can not afford to purchase other kinds of food besides rice. Yet in developed countries like Japan and Korea, the per capita consumption is decreasing with increasing income. I was told by my younger son who is an Agric. Economist that the Philippines is now the largest rice importer in the world. I read in the newspaper that this year alone, the government will be importing 2.45 million tons of rice. Is this a sign that Filipinos are retrogressing economically while our Asian neighbors are moving forward?
*Excerpt of keynote speech delivered during the College of Agriculture Day, Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte on July 2, 2010.
*Dr. Mamaril is a retired UP Los Banos soil science professor and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) scientist. He is the son of Mr. Julian Mamaril, the first Superintendent of Visayas Agricultural College (forerunner of Visayas State University) in the early 1960s.