THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has urged both the public and private sectors to invest in agriculture to support the country’s food systems amid the pandemic.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar during the opening of the National Food Security Summit on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 described the current situation as a “decisive moment for Philippine agriculture.”
“A pandemic with devastating impact on global health continues to ravage economies and societies, threatening to put more people into extreme poverty, and many more into chronic hunger and malnutrition,” he said.
In addition, Dar said unsustainable agri-food systems put pressure on dwindling land and water resources, biodiversity, the environment and climate.
The factors, Dar said, impacted on the country’s ability to feed the growing population.
“Therefore, it is imperative to sustain and strengthen our food production, distribution and logistics systems to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic and natural and man-made disasters do not threaten food security and nutrition and improve resilience to future shocks,” he said.
Dar said investments in agriculture—both from government and the private sector—can help revive food production, modernize and industrialize the agri-fishery sector, and create jobs following a crisis and enable rural communities to recover.
“We must seize the opportunity to level up the Philippine agriculture and reverse its lackluster growth rate of around one percent over the last decade vis-à-vis our population growth rate of around 1.3 to 1.4 percent,” he said.
The agriculture secretary said efforts to implement the Duterte administration’s “Plant, Plant, Plant program” will continue to sustainably increase the production of basic food commodities like rice, corn, vegetables, fruits, livestock, poultry and fishery.
“The agri-fishery sector has been touted as one of the ‘bright spots’ of the economy. It was the only sector that posted positive growth during the second and third quarters last year, while the industry and services sector declined. However, the agriculture sector contracted by 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, pulling down the full-year growth rate to a negligible -0.2 percent,” he said.
The country’s agriculture, forestry and fishing sector declined by -1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
This year, Dar said they expect the sector to rebound as they aim to achieve a 2.5 percent growth of the agriculture sector. / (JOB)