The country’s agriculture sector is expected to play a major role in pursuing a socio-economic response framework to the Covid-19 pandemic recovery efforts.
“For us to rise stronger from this Covid-19 crisis, the government must encourage the development of an agriculture-driven economy,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar at the opening of the Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month celebration and launch of the Plant, Plant Plant program, May 26, 2020, at the DA Central Office, in Quezon City.
“We believe that economic growth in agriculture is more effective at reducing poverty and food insecurity than growth in other sectors. Investments in agriculture can help revive food production and create jobs, following a crisis, and enable rural communities to recover,” he said.
“After this Covid-19 pandemic, business unusual is the new normal. Instead, we have to focus on three guiding principles: survive, reboot, and grow,” the DA chief added.
He said the agri-fishery sector plays a key role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic on food production, market access, and rural employment.
“To avoid serious disruption to rural economies, it is essential to ensure that agriculture, food chain, markets and trade should continue to function,” he said.
To roll out immediate interventions for food production and availability, food accessibility and affordability, and food price stabilization, the DA proposed a P66-billion stimulus package under the Plant, Plant, Plant program. The DA proposal is currently being deliberated upon in Congress as part of the proposed Philippine Economic Stimulus Act.
Secretary Dar said food production areas must be expanded to increase levels of productivity.
“We need to improve efficiencies in production, and enhance projects and activities to ensure affordability and availability of food supply,” he added, stressing that all Filipinos must be involved in government-led actions to prevent food scarcity.
“This is where our eight paradigms under the ‘new thinking for agriculture’ come into play, namely: modernization, industrialization, export promotion, farm consolidation, infrastructure development, higher budget and investments for agriculture, legislative support, and roadmap development,” he said.
“These paradigms will be our guiding light as we speed up the implementation of the Plant, Plant, Plant Program to boost local food production and ensure food accessibility and affordability,” he said.
He added that the country’s agriculture and fishery sector must grow, by attracting more investments and resources, and by partnering strongly with the private sector and local government units — to increase food sufficiency levels, and at the same time modernize and industrialize the country’s agri-fishery sector.
Initially, the DA has partnered with private companies — like San Miguel Corporation, AgriNurture, Inc., Shell Philippines, and other agribusiness firms — to help the sector grow through big brother-small brother partnership, aimed at empowering small farmers and fishers and fostering mutual gains for both parties.
He said the DA should rally and steer all agri-fishery industry stakeholders to propel the sector to ‘grow’ and reach its optimum potential.
“With the help of the private sector and LGUs, we hope to improve our productivity and food supply chain through farm consolidation and clustering, provision of accessible financing, stronger linkages between production and marketing, and establishment of more postharvest and processing facilities,” Secretary Dar concluded. ### (DA Stratcomms)