BUSINESS In Focus Rick Daligdig

Importation: Is this All the Answer?

Philippine Agricultural Sector was at dismal performance last year 2021. Even there is a slight growth in Q4 at 0.6% but for year to date 2021 it was printed to 1.7% contraction much worse in 2020’s – 1.2%. We know agriculture is makes up of 10% of economic output and ranked fourth in generating country’s job.

COVID 19 Pandemic, ASF and Natural Calamities.

Department of Agriculture, the country’s leading agency in over heading the sector, enumerated several factors. The ongoing pandemic which imposes strict mobility during lockdowns or upgrading the alert system in order to curb the infections. Another is the African Swine Fever (ASF) which hurt the hog sector make slumped on the livestock industry. Although reports said that we are now in control of the outbreak still some hog raisers are in fear in entering into the hog industry. It will take some time before the swine farmers recover. Major weather disturbances also contributed for the weak production especially the Super Typhoon Odette. The DA’s final tally is at P13.3 billion of damages. Access to farm to market road of farmers is also a challenge especially during rainy seasons in bringing their products to market.

Same Problems Every Year.

This year we will face same problems in the sector but it seems the agency spearheading it have the a shortcut answer to the shortage of production. IMPORTATION. It’s all over the news that DA’s are planning to import galunggong, flour and sugar. Many of us rise our eyebrows to the course of action of the department. Congress and Senate are firing their separate inquiry about this. Farmer organizations have a bad taste also in the plan. Months ago I already wrote an article here regarding Food Security (Food Security Equates to Economic Recovery article) Again we are urging the government to enact or create projects that will help the sector. Importation must be the last resort of our action. Where on earth that, we are surrounded by bodies of water but we need to import fish? We have a lot of farms but we need to import sugar and flour? Of course rice importation is also on the table.

We need to empower our farmers, innovate the mechanisms, upgrade the systems, Financial institutions must have more relax requirement to be able to provide credit for their finances. Cooperative must be strengthen also. Post harvest facilities must also take a look at it so that we ensure the price stability in our markets. Government must have an adequate disaster resiliency plan especially to typhoon prone areas so that farmers must quickly recover from the devastation. At the end, We cannot rely on importation for our food security, we must cultivate our lands, fish our seas and take care our farmers, fisher folks and livestock’s growers. We can feed our people if qualified and competent people will be assigned to the respective offices and pro-farmer programs will be in place. ###

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