Agriculture to buoy Philippine economic recovery
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - August 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is banking on the momentum gained by the farm sector in the second quarter to help buoy the economy, which plunged into a recession for the first time in three decades.

The agriculture sector pulled off a surprising 0.5 percent growth in the April to June period even as major sectors of manufacturing and services contracted, pulling down the country’s overall gross domestic product (GDP) output.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the department is pleased that the country’s agri-fishery sector performed well despite the mobility restrictions imposed in most parts of the country.

This is on top of the challenges that the farm sector have to hurdle, including the drop in palay and copra prices and the outbreak of the African swine fever (ASF).

“This is a testament to the resiliency and dedication of our farmers and fishers to contribute to the economic recovery effort amid the challenges and health risks that we are facing in the agriculture sector,” Dar said.

As the economy’s traditional growth drivers decline, Dar emphasized that it is time for the agri-fishery sector to take the lead in order to kickstart increased consumer spending and attract more needed investments in modernizing and industrializing the Philippine countryside.

“No less than President Duterte acknowledged that agriculture, alongside the construction industry, will be the most strategic sector for economic recovery during this time of the pandemic,” he said.

In line with this, Dar reiterated his appeal for both houses of Congress to approve the P66-billion stimulus package for the agri-fishery sector, which is under deliberation as part of the Bayanihan 2.

Dar noted that there is a need to secure the necessary budget for the banner Plant Plant Plant program to enable DA to achieve tangible results in its fight against the pandemic.

“We definitely need a substantial budget next year to further elevate the country’s adequacy levels of major food commodities, and thus, we seek the strong support of Congress,” Dar said.

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