February 6, 2023

Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar has identified sunrise subsectors in agriculture amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Agribusiness will continue to be the emerging subsector in agriculture, much more processing industry,” Dar said during the Rebooting Philippine Agriculture webinar of the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC).
He said it is important to increase the productivity of agricultural products for the Philippines to be more competitive in the global market.
Dar said the country should further develop the cacao and coffee industries, while Philippine cardava banana or saba, mango, and pineapple still have huge potential in markets abroad.
Christopher Ilagan, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) co-chair, said the country can also look into sustainable agriculture products, such as animal protein and coconut oil.
“We can look into animal protein markets. Knowing that our gross domestic product has contracted, but with the growing wealthy population, we could imagine more consumption of these things. That’s certainly one. In the coconut sector, one thing we do is the coconut oil. But positioning that as a sustainable product abroad, we’ll create a special position versus the likes of palm oil, which is seen as less sustainable,” Ilagan said.
Ilagan said three out of the 28 priority bills pushed by the JFC and Philippine Business Groups for enactment will improve the country’s agriculture sector. These include Farm Entrepreneurship Act, amendments to the Agri-Agra Law, and the Water Department Act.
For AmCham alone, the business group supports the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act as well as the Rice and Corn Industry Liberalization Act.
The JFC also has key recommendations to the government in terms of market access, access to finance, freeing up the land market, and building infrastructures critical for the growth of the agriculture sector.
These recommendations are expanding access to market both domestically and abroad by implementing ease of doing business, pursuing reforms in the protection and incentive regime, and capitalizing on existing market arrangements; improving logistics and other services through policy reforms like amendments of the Public Service Law; expanding the implementation of provisions of the Agricultural Fisheries Modernization Act on public sector and research and development for agriculture to encourage private sector’s participation and innovation; and overhauling the agricultural extension system with the province as the focal point of governance and extension workers equipped with modern communication technologies.
To improve access to finance, the JFC proposed to formulate and implement an inclusive finance strategy for the smallholders and small fisherfolk, as well as support for agricultural finance, and move away from mandatory allocations towards incentivizing value chain finance.
The group also wants the promotion of individual fee simple rights through subdivision of collective certificate of land ownership award and lifting transfer and ownership restrictions, and shifting toward more consolidated farmland operations by lifting ownership ceilings on agricultural land.
The JFC suggests promoting infrastructure investment by expanding private sector investments in private infrastructure goods, such as postharvest facilities, cold storage, and food terminals and by concentrating public investments on public goods and quality services. – PNA