Dar Leads Agriculture Sector to the Right Direction
Despite the challenges the agriculture sector faced in 2020, it remained resilient in that year with the Department of Agriculture (DA) getting off the ground major programs that will have lasting impact on the country's food security and resiliency.
With the visionary leadership of Secretary William Dar, the DA also developed the "OneDA" reform agenda that will serve the country's agriculture sector over the long term.
"We must apply the 'One DA' agenda to transform the sector by employing major strategies towards a modern and industrialized Philippine agriculture,"
The OneDA agenda is built on four pillars: Consolidation; Modernization; Industrialization; and Professionalization.
Under Consolidation are the following strategies or components: Establishment of Bayanaihan Agri-clusters; Collective action/Cooperatives development; Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Systems; Mobilization and Empowerment of Partners; Diversification; and Credit Support.
Under Modernization pillar are: Technology and Innovation including Digital Agriculture; Farm Mechanization and Infrastructure Investments; Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Measures; and Food Safety and Regulations.
Under Industrialization are: Development of Agri Industrial Business Corridors; Global Trade, Export Development and Promotion; and Postharvest, Processing, Logistics and Marketing Support.
Finally under Professionalization, the strategies are: Agriculture Career System; Education and Training for Agribusiness Management; Youth and Women Engagement; and Ease of Doing Business and Transparent Procurement.
"We will vigorously pursue an inclusive approach that will cut across the strategies and involves setting up of safety net measures such as cash assistance, subsidized credit and crop insurance to directly benefit resource-poor farmers and fishers through our flagship 'Plant, Plant, Plant' program," Secretary Dar said.
"The above strategies' overall objective is to modernize and industrialize Philippine agriculture's value chains in an inclusive way to enhance productivity, uplift rural people from poverty, improve livelihoods and increase farmers' income, so everybody-the DA family, officials and staff, farmers, fishers, partners, other stakeholders, and the public-can harvest the fruits of our shared success," concluded Secretary Dar.
Overcoming the odds
The OneDA agenda was borne out of the need to take the country's agriculture sector to a higher level and make it a major contributor to the country's gross domestic product.
And it was in 2020 that the sector proved its resiliency and potential, as it was the top performer among the three major sectors of the economy amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Also, the year 2020 saw the eruption of Taal Volcano, four strong typhoons hitting the country in the last months, and the scourge of the African swine fever. The damage from the Taal Volcano eruption and the typhoons alone reached P28 billion.
The Covid-19 pandemic also slowed down exports of major Philippine products including farm and food commodities, resulting in a balance of trade of -$6.38 billion in 2020.
Overall, this resulted in a contraction of –0.2-percent in the gross value added (GVA) of the agriculture sector in 2020.
Amid those challenges, the DA responded by sustaining the pursuit of the twin goals of Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita, and optimising the implementation of food availability and logistics programs, resulting in continued function of the food value chain, unhampered flow of agricultural commodities and ensured food safety.
And while there was a decline in some crops and commodities, the country's output of palay (unmilled rice) and corn – two of the most important crops in the Philippines – went up by went up by 2.6 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.
Palay production in 2020 reached 19.4 million metric tons (MMT) for a 2.6-percent increase over the 18.81 MMT of 2019, while corn production hit 8.12 MMT for a 1.8-percent increase over the 7.98 million MT of the previous year.
Furthermore, the country logged a record 4.626-MMT palay production for the first quarter of 2021, 8.6-percent more than in the first quarter of 2021 and erasing the record harvest in the first quarter of 2018, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Overall, the DA responded by judiciously and effectively allocating funds from the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1) for the following programs: Rice Resiliency Project - P8.5 billion that has benefited 434,334 farmers who were given seeds while 841,518 farmers were given fertilizers.
The other programs under the Plant, Plant, Plant Program got P9.1 billion benefiting 825,574 individuals from 3,488 groups.
With funds from the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Bayanihan 2, the DA allocated funds for: Productivity Enhancement Projects (P8.12 billion); Income Enhancement Projects (P8.88 billion); and Social Protection and Amelioration Projects (P7 billion) that benefited 2.251 million target individuals form 72,928 target groups.
Also, P1.3 billion was allocated for the Hog Indemnification Project to indemnify 32,082 farmers affected by the African Swine Fever, while the 11,178 farmers and fisherfolk benefited from the Taal Recovery and Rehabilitation program that disbursed P460 million.
Source from: The Manila Times(2021). PH to Send 15 Agri Scholars to US. Retrieved from: The Manila Times, Special Features (June 23, 2021). https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/06/23/supplements/dar-leads-agriculture-sector-to-the-right-direction/1804223