The Philippine agricultural sector in the face of the crisis
The designated President of the National Authority for Economy and Development (Neda), Arsenio Balisacan, said Tuesday, June 21, 2022 that the country is already experiencing a crisis in its agricultural sector given the surge in commodity prices, especially food.
“The food crisis has already increased and as you know the bird flu, this problem, has been with us which has led to increases in meat prices. Rice prices have also been an issue which, although pricing has lowered the price ceiling considerably, remains high and the issues that concern farmers, the low profitability of rice farming in agriculture and agriculture in general, must be faced. So with that, I would say our agriculture is in crisis,” Balisacan said in a TV interview.
He said the situation may continue in the coming months as other countries plan to adjust the volume of their export products to protect their citizens.
Balisacan said countries, including the Philippines, will address the issue specifically by increasing local food production.
He said the national government has a responsibility to protect poor families in particular from the effects of the food crisis, which has been attributed to the current coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, rising food prices oil and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Like the pinakauna, the rapid rise in prices is already here and is likely to get worse before it gets better. So we need to protect the poorest and most vulnerable groups in our society. We need to strengthen ‘yung ayuda natin, but this time make sure the ayuda goes to the service groups and not just anyone,” Balisacan said.
On Monday, June 20, new President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said he would temporarily take over as head of the Department of Agriculture (DA) upon taking office amid the looming food crisis.
He said he also supported the continued provision of additional financial assistance to poor families to cushion the effects of the crisis.
The agricultural sector weighs
In a television interview, the top candidate for the Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (Agap) Party, Nicanor Briones, said Marcos should also address import and smuggling issues, which have impacted negative impact on the country’s agricultural sector.
“Mali ‘yung import liberalization policy by sinusunod ni (DA) Secretary (William) Dar, ‘young economic managers, the iniisip nila basta ikaw nag-import brought sapat in the Pilipino,’ he said.
“Ang dapat tutukan nila ano bang dahilan bakit tayo nagkukulang ng pagkain.” he added.
In a statement, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) members also urged Marcos to commit to reforming the country’s agricultural sector, including addressing the problem of smuggling and importing vegetables and other produce. agriculture in the country.
Danilo Ramos, chairman of the KMP, said Marcos will face “a thousand and one” problems in the agricultural sector once he temporarily assumes the post of head of the DA.
“One of the big tasks for Marcos Jr. as head of Agri is to deal with soaring fertilizer prices that are hurting farmers,” Ramos added.
Marcos will also have to solve the rampant and unstoppable smuggling and illegal import of vegetables and agricultural products mainly from China, Ramos said.
“We challenge Marcos Jr. to weed out the so-called untouchables among senior officials involved in smuggling,” he added.
Declaration of Dar
Meanwhile, Dar welcomed Marcos’ statement that he will temporarily take over as head of the agency.
“We view this statement as a victory for the AD in generating broad public support for the rehabilitation and empowerment of the sector,” Dar told a press conference.
“We are certain, moreover, by the declaration of the president placing agriculture as the first priority of governance and budgetary. Thus, we expect to see a larger budget for the DA in the coming years,” he added.
Dar suggested setting up a system of food terminals at regional, provincial and district levels to effectively manage the supply and distribution of local agricultural products. (TPM, JKV / SunStar Philippines)