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An all-out drive for Philippine agriculture

  • An all-out drive for Philippine agriculture

    by Market Insider

    Thursday, 23 Jul. 2015

    With the start of the rainy season in the Philippines, the Secretary of Agriculture has called on the nation’s farmers to plant earlier this year. The El Niño dry spell continues to threaten Philippine agriculture; it is now weak but it is expected to become moderate until August, persist until December and start weakening in early 2016.

    While the Philippine monsoon season has begun with rain-bearing winds blowing from the southwest, it can give way at any time to the El Niño’s dry winds blowing in from the central Pacific in the east. Thus, advice has been given to farmers to plant now, taking advantage of the intermittent rains. Should the El Niño threat intensify in the coming months, the Department of Agriculture is ready to undertake cloud seeding operations and install water and solar pumps in farm communities that are in greatest need.

    Despite the El Niño threat, agriculture in the Philippines remains the most crucial sector in the country’s economic growth; it occupies almost a third of the country’s land area and has a third of the country’s labour force. Yet it contributes only a tenth of the country’s annual growth measured in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the country imports more agricultural products than it exports being way behind its fellow ASEAN nations Thailand and Vietnam from which imports most of its rice needs.

    It should not be like this, according to the Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Vendors Association (VIEVA) of the Philippines who pressed the government to move more decisively in agricultural development in face of the ASEAN economic integration starting in the coming year. The government has the plans and the budget but agriculture needs a truly coordinated program of action to truly flourish and become a springboard for the Philippines, which aims to be a true Asian tiger.

    A major problem facing Filipino farmers, the association said, is the lack of financing: banks regard farmers as high-risk borrowers who have limited knowledge on bank loan processes. Farmers also need assistance in new technology, high-yielding crops and other advances in agriculture. They especially need assistance in establishing reliable market linkages.

    In 2015 the Philippines should look into undertaking an all-out drive to make agriculture their major economic engine; it would reach and benefit the biggest and neediest sector of the society providing a crucial step towards a truly inclusive economic growth for the country.

    Source: Tempo.com.ph

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