A NEW World Bank (WB) study emphasizes the benefits for agricultural countries like the Philippines of addressing agricultural pollution, noting how reforms and incentives can support the industry’s competitiveness, development, and sustainability.
“The Challenge of Agricultural Pollution: Evidence from China, Vietnam, and the Philippines” notes that while agricultural growth has allowed East Asia to support some of the world’s fastest growing and urbanizing societies, in parts of the region, the agricultural sector is “becoming a victim of its own success.”
“Agricultural growth has played a significant role in increasing food security and lifting millions of people out of poverty in East Asia over the last three decades. However, this growth has also come at a high price, resulting in unprecedented soil, water, and air pollution in the region,” said Laura Tuck, vice president for sustainable development at the World Bank.
“Investing in the prevention and control of pollution is key to ensuring that development gains in agriculture are sustainable. Good pollution control policies and measures can increase the profitability of agriculture and spur the development of a competitive food industry while enhancing human and environmental health,” she added.
The paper stresses the importance of national policy priorities that will enhance food safety, add value to agricultural products, improve diet quality, attract a new generation of farmers and food entrepreneurs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change.
“In this light, addressing agricultural pollution issues can be considered a gateway to achieving countries’ broader sustainable development goals,” it continued.
In the Philippines, where agricultural pollution is less severe than in China or Vietnam, or rather more localized, the government has put in place fewer agriculture-specific laws and programs, notes the paper.
What can be done?
China and Vietnam have started to embrace more balanced agricultural policies that place greater emphasis on environmental sustainability as food quality, competitiveness, yield performance, and food security.
Governments have a wide range of policy instruments at their disposal. “Typically, governments need to develop multi-pronged programs that use combinations of these instruments to send clear signals to farmers and facilitate responses,” it added.
Some of these instruments for addressing agricultural pollution include zoning rules; livestock farm size restrictions; specifications for animal housing, waste storage, waste treatment facilities; requirements that farms draw fresh water from sources downstream of them; and reporting requirements for waste and wastewater discharges. (Philexport News And Features)