December 6, 2022

The Philippine agriculture is focused on implementing transformation towards having “healthier people, healthier economy, and healthier planet” through a four-pillared approach.

Based on details provided by the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera, Sec. William Dar in his presentation during the Economic and Infrastructure Development Clusters’ pre-State of the Nation Address forum, said consolidation, modernization, industrialization, and professionalism will ensure that the agency’s goal for the sector will be attained.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted several opportunities for the agriculture sector, such as the role of technology in boosting productivity, such as digital agriculture and e-commerce; pouring more investments in the agriculture and fishery sector by government and private sectors; improving logistics in agriculture through digital technology and greater coordination with the LGUs; and promoting smart agriculture, fishery, and forestry sector to improve the connective links of agri-based supply chains and introduce the circular economy approach.

“We should innovate to ensure ade-quate supply of food at affordable prices. The food security imperative revolves around increasing our farm productivity to gua-rantee adequate food supply. However, the availability of food at affordable prices to our consumers, particularly the poor, completes the equation,” Dar said.

Dar added the country’s agriculture sector has remained resilient as the farm and fishery industries persevered and innovated to hurdle challenges brought about by natural calamities, animal diseases like the African swine fever, and the pandemic.

Barring any major natural calamities, Dar said, the agriculture sector is expected to grow 2.5 percent this year, on the back of stronger production in major agricultural commodities, such as rice, corn, coconut, fisheries, poultry, and high-value crops.

These commodities comprise more than 70 percent of the country’s agricultural GVA or Gross Value Added.

Dar said the DA will continue to implement the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program to put more farm and fishery products, particularly vegetables, on the tables of consumers through the urban agriculture and community food self-sufficiency initiatives, wherein partners like farmers’ groups, local government units, church groups, and non-government organizations, are encouraged to plant vegetables in their backyards or vacant lots.

For rice, Dar expects production of another record harvest of 20.4 million metric tons, surpassing last year’s record yield of 19.44 MMT, equivalent to 93 percent adequacy.

The livestock, poultry, and corn subsector was affected by the pandemic, with the closure of many fast-food chains, restaurants, and street food operations, but growth was noted in corn production in the National Corn Program.

The poultry industry also showed signs of revival with the gradual opening of the economy and the shift of consumers to chicken spurred by rising pork prices.

Dar however said the DA is encountering difficulty in the hog subsector, as the ASF outbreak caused a supply shortfall.

To arrest the upsurge in pork prices, he said several measures are implemented to check its spread and promote the repopulation and recovery of the local hog industry, among which is linking with several companies to undertake trial tests of ASF vaccines in the country.

Dar reported the ASF outbreak incidence has gone down from 4,060 cases in the third quarter of 2020 to 981 in the first quarter of 2021.

On fishery, he said DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will pursue productivity programs to increase the subsector’s contribution to agricultural GVA, which averaged at less than 20 percent in the last decade.

He said the DA-BFAR will put up fishery hubs with landing sites and storage facilities in various areas of the country with substantial fish catch.

On the coconut sector, he said they will pursue various mandated programs to increase the subsector’s contribution of only four percent to total agricultural GVA, in the last decades, despite being the country’s top farm export and dollar-earner. – Hanna C. Lacsamana