CEBU, Philippines - To help shield the domestic economy from the effects of the worsening global economic crisis, the Department of Agriculture (DA) recently unveiled a seven-point blueprint anchored on a massive infrastructure program for the farm and fisheries sector.
The DA stressed that an infrastructure buildup in the countryside is necessary to create more jobs and also guarantee the nation’s food security.
In a statement furnished by the DA region 7 press office, DA secretary Arthur Yap said that starting this year, DA will fine-tuned its banner programs by moving funds from farm input subsidies to hard infrastructure which include irrigation and post-harvest facilities to rev up the agricultural sector and ensure the compression of the supply chain that will bring about the lowering of costs, higher rural incomes, and better returns on investments for agribusiness.
“An aggressive rural infrastructure program is a vital component of our plan to inoculate the economy from the impact of a global recession. This is viewed not only from the point of view of job creation but from that of food security as well. For decades, we chose to neglect the path of agriculture in our march towards industrialization,” said Yap in the statement.
DA’s seven-point plan involves: increasing productivity, primarily through rehabilitation and repair of establishment of more facilities and small water impounding projects.
It also included an education and extension program with participating personnel from the local government units (LGUs) and State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) and the shifting of fertilizer subsidies from direct procurement to capacitating farmers to produce their own inputs from organic sources.
It included the strengthening of the Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool, which now stands at P 3.68 Billion to allow Land Bank to lend against that sum for food production.
The seven-point plan also included assisting seed growers to produce quality certified seeds; the establishment of post harvest dryers and milling centers for palay and corn, and ice making machines, chillers and ports for the fishery sector, and ensuring reasonable farm gate prices through aggressive local palay procurement and a proactive rice distribution strategy to make sure the country will not experience another rice price crisis this year and in 2010.
This seven-point blueprint is expected to result in a 2009 growth rate of Gross Output of Agriculture by four percent and in paddy rice of 4.4 percent, which is higher compared with the average annual global growth in paddy rice production of below 2.5 percent, said the DA.
Besides paddy rice, DA eyes other growth drivers in the agriculture sector which will include: aquaculture, banana, poultry, and municipal fisheries.
At present, Philippine public spending in agriculture faint in comparison with those of its Asian neighbors such as China, India, Indonesia and Thailand, and we only manage to outspend poor countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal.— Rhia de Pablo