Aware of the agriculture sector’s role in the government’s economic recovery efforts, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will continue implementing much-needed interventions to match the scale of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the DA will vigorously pursue comprehensive, science-based, inclusive and innovative programs to build efficient and resilient food production and distribution systems to adequately feed the country’s growing population, now and in the future.
He made the pitch at the recent virtual launch of a World Bank report, titled “Transforming Philippine Agriculture: During COVID-19 and Beyond.”
“At this juncture of our history when the world battles a pandemic — that has not only claimed millions of lives, but is also paralyzing social and economic activities — I cannot overemphasize the need for all of us in the agriculture and rural development sector to unite and keep agriculture going to ensure nutritious and affordable food for our people and increased incomes for our farmers and fishers,” he added.
During the virtual event, the DA chief thanked the World Bank for its continued support to the Philippine agriculture sector, including the ongoing Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) that has become one of the best examples of successful multi-sectoral, multi-level partnerships.
The six-year, $280-million PRDP is administered by the DA and jointly funded by the World Bank, the national government, and participating local government units. It aims to establish an up-to-date, value-chain oriented and climate-resilient agriculture and fisheries enterprises, including road networks and infrastructure facilities.
He is also confident the financial institution will also approve the DA-proposed $200-million Fisheries and Coastal Resiliency (FishCoRe) project that is expected to support the scaling-up and modernization of Philippine capture fisheries and aquaculture, through the provision of technical support, capital, and enabling environment.
The FishCoRe project also aims to address structural weaknesses in the value chain to improve sustainability and resiliency of fishery resources, increase incomes of fisherfolk, and uplift the socio-economic condition of coastal communities amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The World Bank’s 110-page report on transforming the Philippine agriculture proposes sector-wide reorientation and reforms, adjustment in the modalities of government support, establishment of reliable databases and analytical capacity in DA for stronger evidence-based decision-making, as well as subsectoral and thematic interventions to support transformational change such as land consolidation, modernization, and industrialization.
Secretary Dar said the message of the World Bank report is clear: “The transformation of Philippine agriculture into a dynamic, high-growth sector is essential for the country. It is the surest way if we are to speed up our economic recovery from the pandemic and achieve a meaningful poverty-reduction and inclusive growth.”
He said the DA will follow the path laid out under its “new thinking for Philippine agriculture,” guided by the following eight paradigms:
- Agricultural modernization;
- Farm and fishery consolidation and clustering;
- Systematic and strategic export development;
- Strengthening rural infrastructure program;
- Higher DA budget and public-private sector investments;
- Cooperation with the legislative branch; and
- Roadmap development.
“The DA family is working doubly hard to empower farmers, fisherfolk and agripreneurs to raise their agricultural productivity and profitability while ensuring greater sustainability and resilience from disasters climate change impacts, and pandemics,” he said. ### (DA StratComms)