Issue of January 5, 2020
     
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DA eyes up to 3% growth of agri sector in 4th quarter of 2019
by Press release

The Philippines’ agriculture sector is set to post robust growth of at least 2.5 percent in the last three months of 2019, despite natural and man-made challenges.

Department of Agriculture Sec. William D. Dar said the country’s agri-fishery sector is expected to grow modestly at 2.5 to three percent in the fourth quarter of the year, a big jump from the 1.8 percent growth posted during the same period in 2018.

“We are hopeful that favorable conditions were sustained in the fourth quarter, allowing us to attain a full-year growth target of at least 2 percent,” Dar said in a news release issued Friday.

The farm and fishery sector grew by only 0.64 percent in the first three months of 2019 and contracted further to -1.23 percent in the second quarter, mainly due to the adverse effects of El Niño on the crops subsector.

The sector recovered during the third quarter, posting a faster-than-expected 2.87 percent growth.

Since August, or barely five months in office, the newly-confirmed agriculture chief faced major challenges that included the falling prices of palay and copra, the high retail price of rice, the outbreak of the African swine fever (ASF), fall armyworm infestation in corn, and typhoons that wreaked havoc on major crops.

“Our prompt implementation of decisive measures to arrest falling prices of palay, as well as (the) imposition of strict biosecurity and quarantine measures to manage, control and contain ASF were the key factors in upturning the crops and hog subsectors, respectively,” Dar said.

Early warning announcements have also helped minimize losses from typhoons.

During Typhoon Tisoy, he said the agriculture sector was able to save P12 billion worth of crops in Luzon and the Visayas due to early preparations made by the DA and local government units.

This included P11.6B worth of palay harvested from 157,000 hectares and P109 million worth of corn crops planted in 2,000 hectares.

“The DA was able to meet head-on and temper the effects of both man-made and natural calamities through the strong cooperation with LGUs, agri-fishery industry leaders, the academe, farmers’ and fishers’ groups, and with the full support of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez, and colleagues in the Cabinet, particularly the economic development cluster,” Dar said.

He expressed optimism that the agriculture sector’s growth would be sustained in the last two-and-a-half years of the Duterte administration, “as we improve productivity and increase (the) incomes of farmers and fishers, attract more investments, and encourage more local chief executives to perform their role as food security czars.”

Dar noted that with the right policy and mechanisms, as well as vigorous support from all quarters, the sector can become “the force by which more contribution to the gross domestic product will happen.”

To realize this target, he said the DA will carry out programs faster and with greater precision.

For 2020, the DA proposed a P71.8B budget, 12 percent higher than the P64B given in 2019. The budget puts forth measures designed to encourage small business initiatives, facilitate credit, and stimulate economic progress through competition.

For the remaining years of the Duterte administration, Dar assured effective and proper implementation of various components of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Program, including the revision and finalization of the Philippine Rice Industry Roadmap.

Dar also aims to consolidate smallholder farmers to allow them to compete in a liberalized trade environment, enhance disease prevention and surveillance systems to protect crops and animal industry from major diseases, and establish strong and functional animal diagnostic laboratories nationwide.

He will also push for the crafting of up-to-date and strategic industry and commodity roadmaps guided by the goals of productivity, competitiveness, profitability, resilience, and sustainability.

The DA will implement a youth entrepreneurs’ financing program to attract young Filipinos to actively engage in agri-fishery and agribusiness ventures.

“Rest assured that these programs and plans of actions will be guided by the principles of good governance, transparency, consultative engagement and most importantly, with a greater sense of urgency, as we continue to create a much better narrative for Philippine agriculture,” Dar said.


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