Speech by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the 6th International Rice Congress

Event 6th International Rice Congress 2023
Location Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City

Thank you very much Senator Cynthia Villar for your kind introduction. And for those who do not know Senator Cynthia Villar is certainly one of the prime movers of the agricultural sector in our country. And that is why we always have her at these occasions because we know that once she decides to work on something, it gets done. [applause]

The Honorable Suon Serei, the Minister of Rural Development in the Kingdom of Cambodia; the Honorable Himanshu  Pathak, the Secretary of Department of Agricultural Research and Education, the Government of India; His Excellency Shambhu Kumaran, Ambassador of the Republic of India to the Philippines; His Excellency Tull Traisorat, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the Philippines; Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano, who is always serving as our host at this function; the International Rice Congress Advisory Committee and Stakeholder led by Chairman Ajay Kohli; International Rice Research Institute Research Director Bas Bouman; my fellow workers in government; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

Thank you for conducting the 6th International Rice Congress, which I am sure will promote the development and use of more quality rice varieties and technologies such as the ultra-low glycemic index or GI rice.

The discoveries in this Congress will pave the way for greater strides in the rice industry in the Philippines and across the globe. I look forward to seeing the innovations to be discussed in this Congress come to life, including the ultra-low GI rice, in the near future.

With every grain that we harvest, process, and consume, we gain the strength and nourishment that we need to continuously drive our lives, families, and nations forward.

Everyone here is well aware that we all—in varying degrees and for various reasons—are facing problems with regard to the supply and price as well as quality of rice.

As such, this Congress comes at an opportune time for us to compare and reevaluate policies, discuss ideas for enhancing global rice value chains, and introduce better practices and technologies.

We need all of these to sustain our growth.

Now that I am given this platform to speak with you all, allow me to briefly share the situation that we are facing here in the Philippines.

First, we understand that our issues with the price and supply of rice stem from several equally significant factors that need urgent attention.

Aside from the global price of rice affecting our own here, the recurrent pounding of typhoons and other natural calamities affect our farmers’ efforts and timelines. This influences both the quality and the quantity of our harvest.

Criminal activities  as well such as illegal importation, smuggling and hoarding, and other anti-competitive practices do not help the situation either.

So, seeing the complexities of the situation, we strive to approach it in a comprehensive and a holistic way based on science.

Aside from investing in research and acquiring machinery to give to our farmers, we try to provide them with more support through our National Rice Program and the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund. This includes our Rice Farmers Financial Assistance.

We have also been working together with international institutions like the IRRI and foreign governments not only to ensure the steady supply of rice but also to enhance the development and sharing of crucial technologies and strategies.

We have likewise been working on our disaster preparedness and resilience so that the rice industry can respond and adapt to the effects of El Niño and other calamitous events.

We also make it a point to hunt down the criminals who are involved in the illegal activities that are previously mentioned.

With all these said, it is important to remember that not one of us alone can do everything that needs to be done.

We have seen through the years what greater power we yield when we are united—just like how the first five installments of this Congress have brought about great progress in the international rice industry.

So, I enjoin all of our government agencies and of course our partners in the private sector to continue collaborating with the IRRI and its partners in identifying creative solutions and mechanisms for a more robust rice industry.

Your participation will surely inspire the rest of society and the entire global community to fortify our efforts for food security across the region and the world.

It goes without saying but I think it bears repeating that rice in our countries means more than food. Rice in Asia, rice in the countries where it is the staple is in fact life. And whenever we find ourselves in a situation where the supply of rice is threatened, this is almost an existential problem that ordinary people feel.

So as I end, let me assure and challenge you in this way: We will spare no effort to ensure the growth of the rice industry here in our country even as we safeguard the welfare of farmers and consumers alike.

We will do everything to pursue and punish those who are involved in smuggling and hoarding. We will make them pay for their wrongful actions and remedy the situation.

We will remain steadfast in our efforts to modernize the agricultural sector through open dialogue and consultations with our farmers and agriculture experts.

As you now share and explore opportunities, I look forward to the transformation of our systems and, more importantly, of our world.

Congratulations and may the 6th International Rice Congress bring forth great harvest for the nations and the next generations to come.

Thank you and good afternoon. [applause]

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