By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

MEGAFARM PROJECT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (right) is shown the state-of-the-art facilities of the Magnolia Poultry Farm in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur on Thursday (Oct. 12, 2023). Marcos said industrializing the agricultural sector is key to realizing his administration’s goal of attaining food sufficiency and food security in the country. (Screenshot from Radio Television Malacañang)

MANILA — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday emphasized the importance of industrializing the agriculture sector to realize his administration’s goal of attaining food sufficiency and food security in the country.

Marcos made the assertion during the inauguration of the world-class, controlled-climate Magnolia Poultry Farm in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur, which he hailed as the “way of the future.”

“For the national government, it is important because this is the way forward, this is what we will have to do, to industrialize our agricultural sector so that we are able to provide sufficient food for our people at the price that they can afford,” he said during the launch of the state-of-the art poultry farm.

“We put a high premium on investments in agriculture. And this is the key to combating hunger and poverty and achieving our goal of food sufficiency and security across the country,” Marcos added.

Marcos said the agriculture sector must be industrialized, considering the population density and the current geopolitical situation.

He said the Magnolia Poultry Farm, a project by San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI), shows to local and foreign investors that the Philippines is ready for any initiatives that “are advantageous to the food supply.”

“We can adapt here and adjust it to the Philippine conditions,” Marcos said. “The most important part is that people realize that this is the way forward. We can no longer depend on the informal production of food in the way that we have depended on for a very, very long time.”

The SMFI’s poultry farm is envisioned to house 80 million birds, or about 200 million kilos in live weight per farm to be harvested annually.

The state-of-the-art poultry farm has advanced facilities and technologies, featuring environmental controls, biosecurity measures, modernized feeding and watering systems, efficient waste management, and a modern farm layout and house design.

A standout feature of the farm is the Antimicrobial Policy, aiming for a 100 percent antibiotic-free operation, except when necessary for disease treatments.

Marcos said the facility is also expected to provide jobs to over 1,000 Filipinos, as well as open multiple opportunities for local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), farmers, and other sectors in Hagonoy town and nearby areas.

“Once realized, this will ensure a more stable, sufficient and cost competitive supply of chicken, as well as bolster the food and nutritional needs of our people,” he said.

“This kind of facility goes a long way in achieving that. So I thank, of course, the San Miguel Foods led by Mr. Ramon Ang, for continuing to expand its operations in the country, for answering the call for investments in our agricultural sector. You have become a reliable partner of the government through your investments in food and beverages, infrastructure and other sectors which align perfectly with this administration’s social economic agenda,” Marcos said.

Big-ticket projects in Mindanao

Marcos also thanked SMFI for investing in Mindanao and hoped that it would also consider expanding its operations in the region, particularly in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

He made the call, as he vowed to transform Mindanao as “bastion not only of peace and security, but also of progress and food sufficiency in the years ahead.”

Marcos also vowed to address the agricultural issues in the region, including the incidents of Avian influenza and Panama disease.

“Rest assured that this government will continue to mitigate the adverse effects of diseases in your sector,” he said.

“We will help mitigate the problems of disease through appropriate and timely interventions. I assure once again the private sector and our people in Hagonoy and the rest of Mindanao, that we still have many initiatives including big ticket projects in store for the island.”

Marcos said the government would also push for Mount Apo’s inclusion in the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations’ list of World Heritage sites.

He added that infrastructure projects such as the Mindanao railway project would jumpstart interconnectivity in the region.

“Moving forward, rest assured that the government will continue to pursue infrastructure projects and other endeavors that will sustain the socio-economic growth of the entire island of Mindanao and with that, the rest of the country. Thank you and I hope that we will all continue to work together to build a more prosperous and progressive Philippines, a Philippines that Filipinos deserve,” Marcos said. (PNA)