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Opinion

Modernizing the agricultural sector

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

I am certain that many will agree when I say that the economic growth and productivity of the country will be sustained in the next few years if we continue to pursue our goals in developing the agricultural sector. Agriculture impacts society in many different ways, by supporting livelihood programs for food, our natural environment and jobs that will in turn provide a stronger economy through trade. By transforming the country into a “ modern “ one,  coming from a progressive transition of traditional farming through innovation and advancement in technology, our government is determined to see to it that this sector will grow dramatically.

On Wednesday, November 28, 2023, according to a report from the Presidential Communications Office, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. reiterated his support for a science-based approach in modernizing the agricultural sector and ensuring that farmers would benefit from the new technologies incorporated in their work and in line with food security. Agriculture Secretary Francis Tiu Laurel Jr. expressed the message of support by our President that assures the government’s priority for research and development for sustainable value chain in this area, and particularly for rice.

The Strategic Plan 2023-2028 of the Philippine Rice Research Institute highlights the need to educate our farmers on modern techniques and looking into the potentials of science and technology to achieve food security, crossing over from a focused approach to a people-centric outlook. Sounds good doesn’t it? After all, food supply to mankind is  highly significant.

Throughout time, technological advancement has greatly improved the agricultural economy where people developed new ways to make farming more profitable and, at the same time, grow more food. Agriculture in the Philippines is a major sector of our society and many interventions, such as agribusinesses, can help advance farmers and their families to thrive as well.

In 2020, a World Bank report stated that a vibrant and dynamic Philippine agriculture is key to faster recovery and poverty reduction as well as inclusive growth. In the same report, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines Ndiame Diop said that modernizing the country’s agricultural sector is a very important agenda for the Philippines and that its effective management of food supply in the middle of a pandemic clearly indicated that the country was well equipped to overcome the challenge of transforming agriculture and food systems.

Not too long ago, I witnessed how a Spanish town called Caceres (autonomous community of Extremadura) helped boost the Spanish economy as it is home to the finest Jamón Iberico anyone could ever taste and experience. Totally off the grid (in my opinion) and away from what was more familiar to me, I saw how farmers adopted new methods to maintain their standard of quality produce where pigs practically graze in woods full of bellota (acorn). I couldn’t help but wish for my own country the same industrial success.

Research lies at the heart of agriculture and as the World Bank has also reported in the past years, agricultural research gives farmers a new lease on life. If we are serious about long-term food security, research and development is essential in reducing poverty as well as building stronger communities and economies – not to mention its purpose, which is intended to help shape future global food production.

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