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Masagana-99 model program

The program fixes the assistance to farmers down to the grassroots and everything was supervised by the then Ministry of Agriculture.

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LEADS Agricultural Products president Fernando Malveda (right) laments the disintegration of the country’s rice program as he talks to Tribune editors Chito Lozada and Dinah Ventura. / PHOTOGRAPH BY AL PADILLA FOR THE DAILY [email protected]_al

Masagana 99 (M-99), the agricultural strategy of former President Ferdinand Marcos was the model for the local farm sector in its effort to rise out of the cycle of slow growth that in effect caused the overall inability of the economy to reach its full potential.

Fernando Malveda, president of Leads Agricultural Products Corp., said during the Daily Tribune’s “Pairfect” forum that the program fixes the assistance to farmers down to the grassroots and everything was supervised by the then Ministry of Agriculture.

The Land Bank of the Philippines and rural banks were mandated to focus on the program that resulted to a sustained growth of about three percent or more a year which is a growth level that the sector had not attained since.

The only time when the country exported rice was under the program. The program targeted an increase in rice productivity from a low of 45 cavans per hectare to at least 99 cavans.

It was also during that time when rice and corn farmers were liberated from the stranglehold of mostly Chinese traders who dictated the prices of farm commodities.

By receiving adequate government support, the farmers broke from the grip of unscrupulous traders.

Aquino law a spoiler
Malveda said that the golden era of the agriculture sector ended during the term of former President Corazon Aquino when she enacted the Local Government Code that transferred to the local governments all personnel in charge of the M-99 in the localities.

“Some of them ended up as hired hands or drivers of the incumbent mayor or his spouse,” according to Malveda.

He said that Leads patterned its assistance program to farmers from the M-99 scheme in which the company even provide P10,000 to each farmer for labor costs in tilling land acquired through the land reform program.

A direct act of Congress or an executive order from the President can return the benefits of the M-99, according to Malveda.

“M-99 was the most comprehensive program to raise agricultural productivity since it included transfer of technology, credit extension and crop management undertaken by agriculture technicians,” he noted.

The agriculture scheme should not involve dole outs and should teach to farmers the value of the assistance they get as coming from people’s money and should be paid back to benefit other farmers.

Inconsistent aims
He noted that Domingo Panganiban was tapped to head the M-99 thrust when the late Arturo “Bong” Tanco was agriculture minister.

After the toppling of Marcos, Panganiban was tapped for consultancy work with various international bodies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization and private agricultural groups in Bangkok, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Incidentally, the five countries where Panganiban was assigned became major rice producers in Southeast Asia.

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