‘Masagana 150,’ key agricultural focus of PBBM admin

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will shortly launch its  “Masagana 150” program which targets to produce 150 cavans of palay per hectare.

DA Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista said the program’s name has been inspired by Masagana 99 introduced in the 1970s by the father and namesake of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.. Both programs seeks to prevent rice shortage nationwide.

Masagana 99 was designed to increase rice production by giving farmers high-yielding rice varieties, with the goal of promoting the country’s rice self-sufficiency by raising the average palay crop yield from 40 to 99 cavans per hectare.

The Masagana 150 program, Evangelista said, will employ new technology to help farmers increase their yield. “It’s anchored on increasing the yield based on the tech we can avail of, and the tech we have but the idea is to reach that much (150 cavans per hectare). We’re looking at how and when this can be implemented,” she said in a recent TV interview.

Evangelista said if Masagana 150 will be implemented, we’re looking at it to  help farmers come up with better yield, and bring down the cost of rice.” She added that DA is currently exploring all possibilities to be able to push through with the program.

The DA official said the government is also looking into developing more agricultural lands, even in urban areas, noting that the country’s local supply of rice is at 12.37 million metric tons and has to import about 2.36 million metric tons.

“There’s a piece of land here in Quezon City where people are farming already. We’re bringing in younger farmers because they are innovative and adjust easily. We’re looking at how to help them have good yields so we can supply even restaurants here in NCR (National Capital Region). What we can do here in NCR can be replicated in metro Davao,” Evangelista said.

During his recent oath-taking, President Marcos vowed to focus on making the country’s food sufficient by rebuilding a robust agriculture sector, as he aspires to make the price of rice affordable to ordinary Filipinos.

Soon after, he decided to temporarily head the DA and prioritize the urgent need to address the challenges in the sector and boost production to prevent food shortages and price hikes. .

“From the very beginning, I always said agriculture was going to be a very critical and foundational part of our economic transformation,” Marcos said in an earlier news conferences.

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) has called the proposed Masagana 150 a “nice program,” saying they are awaiting details on how it would be implemented. SINAG president Rosendo So said he had already discussed the issue  with the President.

So said “agri-smuggling” biggest problem the agriculture sector faces since smuggled products do not have tariffs and kill the local industry.