Craft concrete plan for agri, groups tell presidential bets
FIVE agriculture coalitions on Wednesday called on the five presidential candidates in the May 2016 elections to come up with concrete action plans to improve the country’s agriculture sector.
The five coalitions— Alyansa Agrikultura (AA), Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc., Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan and the Agriculture
Agriculture remains our most neglected sector, even as it employs millions of Filipinos across the country.”
Fisheries 2025 (AF2025)—said the action plan should address six priority issues. These priority issues are strengthening the bureaucracy of the Department of Agriculture ( DA), ensuring stakeholder participation, agriculture extension, credit and insurance, agriculture global positioning and agriculture structural reform.
“Agriculture remains our most neglected sector, even as it employs millions of Filipinos across the country. Millions of Filipino farmers go hungry each day, locked out from formal credit, set back by unfair trade and unable to compete in an increasingly import dependent economy,” AA Chairman and coalition convener Ernesto Ordoñez said.
The five coalitions said the Philippines remains an agricultural country, with the sector employing 12 million people, or nearly a third of the country’s work force.
“Despite an increase in the DA budget from P30 billion in 2011 to P89 billion in 2015, growth in the sector has averaged an anemic 1.5 percent, a far cry from the government target of 4 percent,” a joint statement from the five coalitions read.
They added that the agriculture sector have the highest poverty incidence among all basic sectors.
Filipinos facing poverty are often left with three options: insurgency, crime and overseas work, according to the groups.
“With clear links between ag- riculture and food security, social and economic stability, and peace and order, Filipino farmers are now looking for clearly defined programs to uplift agriculture after the next administration assumes office,” they said. Although the candidates acknowledged the role of agriculture in fighting poverty, Ordoñez said time constraints in the presidential debate on February 21 did not allow them to present concrete platforms for the sector.
With this, the coalitions are asking the aspirants to present their plans for the sector in a public forum scheduled next month.
Earlier, economists from the Ateneo de Manila University said Filipinos should elect a president who is pro-agriculture to achieve inclusive growth and enable farmers to compete in the global marketplace.
Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development Director Leonardo A. Lanzona Jr. said a pro-agriculture president can look at the sector as a means to lift millions of people from poverty and to improve competitiveness.
Lanzona added that a pro-agriculture president can also address problems in agrarian reform.
While the government has been able to distribute lands, he said farmers have encountered problems in terms of the lack of financing and machinery to maximize the land granted to them.