PHILIPPINE Chamber of Commerce Industry (PCCI) President Benedicto Yujuico said the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic may benefit Mindanao in the near future despite the negative impacts it brought to the local economy since March.
“There are challenges which have been complicated by Covid-19. But Covid-19 may also be the catalyst to trigger and accelerate structural changes that could unlock Mindanao's potentials and bring about sustainable and inclusive growth,” Yujuico said during the opening of the 29th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) 2020 on September 10, 2020.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of agriculture.
“Mindanao has a comparative advantage in agriculture. Its agricultural produce is abundant,” Yujuico said.
According to the data gathered by the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), Mindanao provides around 40 percent of the national food requirements and accounts for 30 percent of the national food trade.
“Eight of the top ten agricultural exports come from Mindanao,” Asec. Romeo M. Montenegro, Minda deputy executive director, said during his presentation on September 11, the second day of the 29th MinBizCon.
Data from the agency also showed that Mindanao is also the major source of several high-value crops. Mindanao produces around 99.99 percent of the country’s rubber production, 90.82 percent of the country’s palm oil production, 89.42 percent of the country’s cacao production, 88.85 percent of the country’s pineapple production, 82 percent of the country’s banana production, 73.59 percent of the country’s coffee production, 57.35 percent of the country’s seaweed production, and 49.32 percent of the country’s coconut production.
Yujuico pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the agricultural sector will play a crucial roll in helping the country recover.
“Agriculture has been thrust to the center stage of economic recovery and efforts. Mindanao should be able to benefit from this development,” he said.
Yujuico added, “Once the world recovers from the pandemic, Mindanao's agriculture can well take advantage of this commodity boom and serve as its jumping board for sustained growth.”
As part of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga), Mindanao will be able to take advantage of economic cooperation and complementation to create economies of scale and provide an adequate supply of agricultural products demanded by the market.
He said food manufacturers, which form a majority of the country’s manufacturing activities, will also benefit from Mindanao’s agricultural sector.
“Food manufacturers are to benefit from a stable supply of raw materials at acceptable quality standards. This will bolster their competitiveness, lead to the expansion of their operation, and create more jobs and income in the process in the rural and urban areas,” Yujuico said.
However, Yujuico said for Mindanao to meets its full potential and boost its agricultural sector, there is a need to modernize the agricultural sector to enable small farmers to access the market.
“Because of your strength in agriculture, modernizing your food production will go along a long way in making a serious dent in not just recovery efforts but in developing resiliency and reducing poverty as well,” Yujuico said.