PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. want all agricultural lands in the country to undergo geomapping to ensure increased yield and boost farmers’ income, according to the presidential palace.

He made the order during a meeting with the Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders Movement (PRISM) in Malacañang on Wednesday, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said in a statement on Thursday.

Mr. Marcos Jr. told stakeholders his government is using geomapping — setting up soil maps for specific agricultural products to boost productivity.

He said the government is compiling and using maps from the Bureau of Internal Revenue and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

“So from that, the titling problem that we mentioned, it will be easier,” the president said in mixed English and Filipino. “We can define the parcels of land and in that way, we know. Once we get rid of our titling problem, everything will be easy.”

“PRISM raised several concerns during the meeting although, based on the discussions, many of those challenges could readily be addressed by the current government interventions and programs,” the palace said.

It said among the concerns were the high cost of rice production and limited market access, limited access to capital investment, adverse tax policies, lack of extensive irrigation system, the climate crisis threat including El Niño and slow adoption of rice production technology.

Unavailability and lack of access to real-time data, misaligned programs and activities across agricultural agencies, inconsistent consultative meetings among various rice stakeholders and rice smuggling were also on the list.

“Existing government interventions addressing these concerns include the implementation of farm and fisheries consolidation and clustering program, provision of various support services including credit and financing by the Department of Agriculture and Land Bank (LANDBANK) of the Philippines, and establishment of climate-smart agriculture infrastructure,” PCO said.   

The Marcos government is also formulating a national agricultural and fisheries modernization and industrialization plan in consultation with other stakeholders, it added. 

The palace said the government is also using information technology to gather, analyze and use data for food production.

The government is also recalibrating import schedules to protect local farmers and industries.

The state is also studying the pre-shipment inspection system proposed by the Finance department, while the Agriculture department is reviewing the Rice Tariffication Law and its implementing rules, it added.

PRISM, founded in 2019, is composed of multisectoral groups involved in the rice industry value chain. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza