Agri growth below potential


    Agriculture in the Philippines has shown particular resilience through the pandemic but its growth is still below its potential, according to a United Nations (UN) organization.

    Alessandro Marini, country director of the International Food for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in his message at the launch of the Davao Agri-Trade Expo 2020 on Friday, noted the importance of an inclusive agriculture based-growth in reducing poverty and in transforming the Philippines into a mature modern economy” especially in the context of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    “Agriculture (growth) is still well below the other sectors of the economy over the (past few) years, growing about 1.9 percent per year versus five to 6 percent growth rate for the overall economy,” Marini said, adding agriculture accounts for 10 percent of national GDP but employs 20 to 25 percent of the total labor force.

    Marini added the Philippines over the last decade has made tremendous progress in reducing poverty and yet poverty is still at 16.6 percent. This means around 18 million Filipinos remain poor.

    “Poverty is still primarily a rural phenomenon where poverty incidence is almost three times high …and one in three households is poor,” Marini said.

    Where the agricultural sector has shown particular resilience to the pandemic and has in fact grown despite the pandemic, Marini said the Philippines needs to ensure “the most disadvantaged rural communities such as the farmers, micro entrepreneurs, women, indigenous people … those that risk being left out, fully participate and share the benefits through market opportunities.”

    IFAD, a specialized agency of the UN with a specific mandate to eradicate rural poverty and food insecurity globally, has invested $390 million and reached 1.9 million households in the Philippines since 1978.

    In the same event, Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) noted the importance of investments in agriculture in pushing the country’s economic recovery amidst the pandemic.

    “The government recognizes tapping prospects in agribusiness and pushing for its advancement is one way to achieve inclusive growth in the country… DTI is committed to promoting agribusiness as a tool not only to reboot and boost the agricultural sector, but also to assist our economy in the wake of COVID-19,” Lopez said. (I. Isip)