Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio
Director and CEO
Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)
Point 1: OVERALL GROWTH PROJECTIONS FOR THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR IN Q1 2021. For the first quarter of 2021, we are projecting that the overall growth rate of the volume of production in agriculture is -1.21%. This contraction could be expected as the agriculture sector bounces back after a series of typhoons and floods on top of the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Fishery is expected to have positive growth at 3.05%, but such is not the case for crops (-1.17%), livestock (-6.33%), and poultry (-3.99%). We are positive, however, that the rest of the quarters of 2021 will show a positive growth as the sector becomes more adapted and innovative.
Point 2: FISHERY SECTOR SHOWS PROMISE BUT MORE INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT IS NEEDED. Noting the positive growth to be expected from the fishery sector, we are calling for an improved logistics and transport system to increase the competitiveness of the sector. The Philippines needs to invest on integrated infrastructure system that lowers production and transportation costs across the different supply chains. The private sector is enjoined to invest in cold-storage facilities where various technological adaptations may be applied in our country given that various designs have been made by more advanced countries on this aspect. We believe that this need is very urgent given that the fishing communities remain one of the impoverished sectors in the country.
Point 3: AS NATURAL HAZARDS AND OTHER DISRUPTIONS ARE BECOMING COMMONPLACE, WE NEED TO TRANSFORM THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR AS RESILIENT SYSTEMS. Given the significant impact of typhoons and floods to the crop sector as experienced in 2020 or even in the years prior, we join the clamor for more resilient agricultural farming systems. This clearly requires an increased percentage of Filipino farmers having internalized a decision-support system that would make them more agile and effective in responding to natural hazards and other potential external disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic. These include improved access to climatic and weather data, stress-tolerant crop varieties, good agricultural practices, crop insurance system, extension system and modern technological support, and innovative financial capital.
Point 4: LIVESTOCK AND POULTRY SECTORS NEED SYSTEMIC, LONG-TERM INTERVENTIONS TO MAKE IT SUSTAINABLE. As threats like the COVID-19 pandemic and a string of zoonotic diseases remain, we call for a more comprehensive evaluation using One Health/EcoHealth framework to operationalize to how the livestock and poultry sector could achieve its triple bottom line: profit, people, and planet. Specifically, support is needed for improved access to better surveillance system, integrated biosecurity measures, and technology-based operation system (i.e., Tunnel-vent technology), among others. To further induce this, we call on the consumers to be more aware and supportive of livestock and poultry products that manifest higher quality standards.