The Department of Agriculture has expressed optimism that the farm sector can continue to grow despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic after the industry managed to pull off a surprise 0.5 percent growth in April to June.
Agriculture secretary William Dar said despite the decline in palay prices, the presence of African swine fever, the Taal volcano eruption, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the DA and its stakeholders have managed to make sure there was enough food for Filipinos.
To sustain and further boost the sector, Dar outlined his agency’s major strategies to achieve higher growth. These include modernization of the sector by efficiently providing modern and appropriate technologies to enhance farmers’ productivity and competitiveness.
The DA will also facilitate the clustering and consolidation of smallholder farmers and fisherfolks for more effective production, processing and marketing activities, as well as enjoin the private sector to invest in agriculture through industrialization and establishment of agri-aqua industrial business corridors.
It also aims to promote higher budget and more investments in the sector following the support and advocacy of President Duterte and strengthen its partnership with the legislative branch to promote and institutionalize needed support for the industry.
If the renewed vigor at the DA after several quarters of lackluster performance is genuine and sustainable, it may be one of the positive side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as it forced unexpected shifts in the economy. Our country’s eventual recovery from the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 will require a reenergized Department of Agriculture that can unite and prop up the small farmers and fisherfolks neglected by their government until a pandemic allowed them to reestablish their critical role in the country’s food security.*