AFTER failing to meet self-sufficiency targets, President Aquino vowed to boost Philippine agriculture in the face of stiff international competition and the demand for food security.
“When we started treading the straight path, we identified agriculture as one of the sectors that required the attention of the government,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said reading Mr. Aquino’s keynote speech for the Second International Conference on Agricultural and Rural Development.
“We knew that, if we were to lay the foundations for our country’s resurgence, agriculture was a sector that needed a boost,” de los Reyes said quoting President Aquino.
“Rightly so, because agriculture is a ‘stomach’ industry; increasing our capacity to produce and supply our own food redounded not only to the improvement of the farmer’s condition, but also to expanding our ability to address the basic needs of our people,” the speech read.
According to Mr. Aquino, agriculture accounts for 32 percent of the entire job market in the Philippines and contributes 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) even as the latest figures place its share at nearly 20 percent of the GDP.
“We also found out that in the first semester of 2014, despite the challenges posed by recent disasters, our agricultural sector grew by 2.2 percent, with value in current prices at P347.1 billion. Subsectors related to crops, livestock, and poultry have seen an increase in production from the previous year,” the President’s speech read.
De los Reyes said Mr. Aquino sees “more farmlands connected to hubs of industry and growth, brought about by continuous construction of farm-to-market roads.”
“Our government is also constructing the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the growth of agriculture in the country.”
President Aquino cited the impact of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), which is now on its second phase, and the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP), which is being implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in partnership with World Bank.
“PRDP will be an upscaling of MRDP, adapted to carry forward the DA’s refocus on value chain improvement, enterprise and cluster development, and vertical integration from production to processing and even to marketing.”
De los Reyes said the Aquino government “intends to provide an impetus for the growth of the rural economy” through these interventions.
“This on top of the ports, airports, and other transport hubs we’re currently constructing and upgrading to improve transport and travel across the archipelago,” de los Reyes said reading from Mr. Aquino’s speech.