THE vast lands of Negros Oriental can help address the issue of food security in Central Visayas, a top official of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 said.
Although the region has not experienced deficiency in its food requirements, Neda 7 Director Efren Carreon encouraged stakeholders to turn to Negros Oriental, which has hectares of agricultural land that have not been fully developed, to boost the region’s agriculture sector.
Carreon said agriculture is not Cebu’s strength because of its limited agricultural resources, but it could rely on Bohol and Negros Oriental for its food supply.
Agriculture in the Philippines is one of the sectors struggling for a comeback, with some saying it’s a dying industry, as agricultural lands are being turned into commercial developments and farmers are growing old.
Agriculture and forestry in Central Visayas recorded a slower growth in 2018, from 9.4 percent (in 2017) to 1.1 percent. Fishing, on the other hand, rebounded from a contraction in 2017.
“While we are happy that fishing rebounded and grew by 3.3 percent in 2018, the entire agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing sector needs utmost government attention,” said Carreon.
He said it is about time the region looked at other potential areas to boost the agriculture sector. He specifically cited Negros Oriental as among the areas that exhibited such potential.
Meanwhile, Carreon said the prices of basic commodities are expected to be in the “comfortable level,” with inflation settling within the government’s two to four percent target. Inflation is the rate of increase in prices of goods and services.
“We expect the low inflation to sustain all throughout 2019, but of course, we need to keep an eye on factors that we don’t have control of,” he said, referring to the spike in oil prices in the global market and the geopolitical events in oil-producing countries.
Carreon also said the impact of the Rice Tariffication Act is also expected to ease inflation in the coming months.
Rice prices are expected to be cheaper by up to P7 per kilo with the release of the law’s implementing rules and regulations.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that inflation slowed to 3.8 percent in the first quarter of the year, from 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The lower inflation during the quarter mainly reflected the significant deceleration in food inflation amid improved supply conditions.