ECONOMIST Bernardo Villegas sees agriculture as the top sunrise industry in this pandemic-stricken economy.
“If there’s an area that we should spend time on, it is the agriculture sector. We must support and invest in all levels of agriculture,” said Villegas in an online forum.
He predicted that the sector would grow three percent this year and the food manufacturing sector to grow by at least 10 to 12 percent this year.
Villegas said the country should produce enough to feed its population and a surplus to supply to other countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and even China.
According to Villegas, it is important to tap the China market, especially now that it has become a powerful economy.
“Despite our disagreements with some policies, we cannot ignore that China will emerge as the strongest economic powerhouse now and in the future,” he said.
Despite the pandemic setback, China, according to a report by the Associated Press, eked out 2.3 percent economic growth in 2020, likely becoming the only major economy to expand while other powerhouse economies like the US and Japan are still struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking at a one million metric ton (MMT) increment in rice production for the year to attain a national yield of 20.4 MMT.
For 2021, DA Secretary William Dar said the goal is to reach 95 percent rice sufficiency level.
“Last year, despite a perfect storm which includes the eruption of Taal Volcano, the Covid-19 pandemic, the African swine fever and the series of typhoons, the country managed to attain a 19.4 MMT national yield, the highest in the history of rice production in the country,” Dar said in a statement.
Dar noted that the import level is starting to go down as local production continues to grow with interventions and assistance for seeds, fertilizer and capacity building.
The DA chief added that the agriculture sector posted positive growth in 2020 because of the efforts of the farmers, fishers and other stakeholders. (KOC)