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Duterte says Piñol telling a lie: I don’t believe we can be rice sufficient

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President Rodrigo Duterte practically hung Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol out to dry when he expressed belief Wednesday (June 13) that the country may never attain its goal of rice self-sufficiency.

In a speech at Malacañang, Duterte said there is now a shortage of lands in which to plant food crops because of the preference for cash crops.

“Kasi sa Mindanao, the choice lands there were eaten up by the cash crop guys. Iyong food crop, wala na masyado. And if you’d ask me, in the next how many years, we will just have to import rice. I do not believe that we can be rice sufficient,” he said at the signing of a memorandum of agreement for free higher education.

“‘Yung sinabi ni Piñol na at the years end. Istorya man lang ‘yon,” he added.

In February, Piñol said the country was on track to hit 100 percent rice self-sufficiency by 2020 after its palay production hit 19.4 million metric tons (MT) last year.

The Philippines’ rice self-sufficiency rate currently stands at 96 percent.