Speech by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Opening Ceremonies of Agrilink / Foodlink / Aqualink Trade Fairs 2022
Thank you very much, Usec. Ding Panganiban for your introduction. Senator Cynthia Villar, our partner in the Senate being the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food; the Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps; Chairman of Agrilink 2022 Mr. Christopher Lindo; Ms. Dulce Gozon, Chairperson of the Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development; my fellow workers in government; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
I am here to be with you at these opening ceremonies for the 27th Agrilink/Foodlink/Aqualink Trade Fairs.
And rightly so because we have not been able to conduct this very, very important fair during the pandemic and this is once again the first time that we have been able to do it and very important and very timely it is too considering the situation that we find ourselves in together with other countries in terms of food supply, in terms of food prices, in terms of inputs to the agricultural sector — all of these shocks that we have been feeling.
So now it is time to once again lay the path for our agricultural industrialization and this is a good first step for all of us to once again introduce ourselves to each other and to find the way forward with the new global economy.
Let me first of all recognize our farmers, our fisherfolk, our livestock farmers and breeders — the great unsung heroes of our nation. [applause]
Because of them, we have food on our tables; because of them, we have the sustenance we need to pursue our endeavors for the betterment of our nation.
Of course, I would like to thank the organizers and participants of this event. And I thank you for this kind invitation to be with you at this extremely important and momentous day. It is a pleasure to work with you in pushing for holistic approaches that advance this critical industry.
As an agricultural country and an archipelagic country, food products from our farms and fisheries depend mostly on the dynamics of time and season.
On better days, our agricultural and fishing sectors yield harvests that contribute to the growth of our economy and no less than feed our people.
But at the worst of times, particularly during droughts, during storms, and other disasters or calamities, we not only encounter insufficient supply and inflation but also run the risk of an insufficient food supply.
It is thus commendable that, in its previous iterations, this event has yielded various innovations and recommended solutions that help make our agriculture sector more robust and more resilient.
I recognize your efforts to modernize the way we produce and market our goods, to further empower our farmers and agricultural workers to do better, to work smarter, to yield more, and to have a better living.
Now that we are beginning to see the shape of the new normal, I assure you that this administration is one with you in fulfilling our goals and targets for the agricultural sector.
We will build ourselves back better together with the people who have been our bedrock of strength and of sustenance, even the most challenging times.
Towards this end, the government has provided inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, machineries, equipment, facilities as well as fingerlings and livestock to help our farmers, our fisherfolk, and our livestock growers.
We have also expanded irrigation projects, established KADIWA outlets, created food logistics hubs and agri-trading centers as well as organizing and aiding cooperatives and associations for the procurement of reefer vans, freezers, chillers, and other logistical support to help our farmers efficiently transport their products to the consumers.
This government has likewise provided various forms of assistance such as the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance with disbursements totalling more than 590 million pesos and the Fuel Discount Program for Farmers and Fisherfolk, which alleviates the effects of high fuel prices, to the tune now of 320 million pesos for our farmers and our fishermen.
Of course, we also have the Quick Response Fund, which we use to aid our farmers in times of disasters and calamities. So far, the government has released a total of 1.54 billion pesos that benefitted more than 17 million farmers and fisherfolk.
But the work to improve our agricultural sector and improve the plight of our farmers and fisherfolk has only just begun. We need to continue to open more opportunities to improve their wellbeing.
We are presently only playing catch-up. We have allowed the agriculture sector to diminish in its importance and in its contribution to our GDP, our contribution to the welfare of ordinary citizens, ordinary Filipinos.
And that is why it is important that we accelerate all our efforts. And occasions such as this are just the highly appropriate times for which we can remind ourselves that what we are doing is not only growing crops, not only expanding fisheries, not only helping our livestock growers, but what we are is feeding a nation.
And in feeding a nation, we also provide the stability for that nation, for the Philippines to be able to look forward to the future and say we can progress from here because we have a strong foundation in our agricultural sector. Without a strong agricultural sector that is not possible.
It is in this endeavor that we will need partners like those who are present here today and who have always been with us in all our efforts to make our agricultural sector better.
Through the conduct of trade events like this, we seek to improve the agricultural value chain and aid in the overall development of the small and medium-scale enterprises in the agribusiness sector through the creation of market opportunities.
Trade events like Agrilink, Foodlink, and Aqualink help us support our farmers and our fisherfolk. We empower them to become catalysts who will contribute to the recovery and inclusive growth of our economy.
So it is my hope that as we engage in the exchange of ideas and learn from one another during this trade fair, we will also commit ourselves to once again synergizing our efforts towards the country’s agricultural and economic productivity.
The strengthening of the agricultural sector is the strengthening of survival, the strengthening of life. And that is how important we have always considered the agricultural sector. And that is why I took on the portfolio.
As soon as I took office as President, I decided to take on the portfolio of the Secretary of Agriculture, not only to highlight the importance with which this administration puts on the agricultural sector but also to accelerate the development of that value chain. The strengthening of all our services that we give to our people in terms of food production, in terms of food supply, and our efforts to keep all our food products, all our agricultural commodities at a price that ordinary citizens can afford.
With our energies and resources combined, I am confident that we will not only achieve our goal of feeding the Filipino people, but also achieve our dream of making the Philippines a leading agricultural resource hub in the region and the world.
Huwag natin pong kalimutan ang ating pangarap para sa ating mga minamahal na kababayan. Sana wala ng gutom na Pilipino. Maraming salamat po at mabuhay po kayong lahat! [applause]
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SOURCE: OPS-PND (Presidential News Desk)