The INVESTMENTS in agriculture and revised import policies, among others, should be implemented by the government in view of the contribution of the agricultural sector to the economy, stakeholders said at a forum hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food (Pcafi).
“The private sector contributes 95 percent of investments in the agricultural sector. It needs to have the right environment for people to invest in it. The government’s contribution to total agricultural production is less than 5 percent per year, ”said Pcafi chairman Danilo Fausto. during the organization’s last “Halalan 2022 Para sa Agrikultura” forum.
The president of Alyansa Agrikultura, Ernesto Ordoñez, and the president of the Federation of Free Farmers, Leonardo Montemayor, pushed for the creation of the national data information system, mandated by the 1997 law on modernization of agriculture and fisheries “to provide accurate data on the import, export, demand, supply and prices of agricultural products.
This is essential because agricultural imports were slowly killing the domestic agricultural sector, they said. The Pcafi questioned the government’s import policy as a means of ensuring food security and Fausto said a national database would allow investors and food producers to make “informed business decisions”.
He also urged the government to continue aggressive intercropping, noting that 85 percent of the country’s farmland is only planted for four crops: rice, corn, banana and coconut.
“Our smallholder farmers can earn more by planting other higher-value crops like vegetables, pulses, fruits and even ornamentals in rotation with rice and corn. Agricultural products can be further processed into various products that are much more valuable than the raw form and create additional jobs. in the process, ”Fausto added.
National scientist Emil Javier, chairman of the Philippine Agricultural Modernization Coalition, recommended consolidating farms for economies of scale.
He also called for increased access to credit for small farmers, saying “the government should consider establishing a branch of the Land Bank exclusively dedicated to loans to small farmers. It should also improve operations and raise capital from the land. Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. “
Javier pushed for the creation of a separate Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources because “fishermen and coastal communities are the poorest of Filipinos. Fisheries and marine resources are severely underfunded and grossly underutilized. Fisheries tend to be neglected and crowded out by crops and livestock. .. “
Agriculture, which accounts for some 30 percent of the country’s workforce, contributed just 10 percent of gross domestic product last year.