Nationalist People’s Coalition Congressman Win Gatchalian is urging the government to make smart investments in agriculture after the country’s farm output only grew by less than one percent last year.
Gatchalian was reacting to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority- Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (PSA-BAS) showing the marginal increase of value of farm production by 0.11 percent to P788.7 billion in 2015 from P787.84 billion in the previous year.
“The farmers themselves cannot do it alone. The government must take on a proactive role in boosting our farm output and in making our agriculture competitive with our regional neighbors. We also have to improve the sector’s resiliency in the light of natural disasters worsened by climate change,” explained Gatchalian, a majority member of the House committee on trade and industry.
While the country’s gross domestic product grew yearly above six percent since 2010 except for 2011, agriculture only grew by an average of 1.3 percent in the last six years.
Gatchalian maintained that the government agencies, especially the Department of Agriculture, have to make smart investments to break the cycle of lackluster performance of agriculture.
“Specifically, the DA should invest in productivity enhancing and cost reducing infrastructure. The government should develop farm-to-market road networks, invest in processing facilities, provide agri output transportation,” said Gatchalian adding that the “underlying strategy is to increase farmer margins by increasing productivity and lowering costs.
Gatchalian also underscored the need to strengthen agricultural cooperatives as this will enable farms to tap into economies of scale, access formal credit markets, and develop resilience to climatic and economic shocks.
“The agriculture sector’s climate resilience can be enhanced by developing climate control infrastructure such as dams, flood ways and dikes as well as by adopting climate-adaptive farming techniques and crop rotation cycles,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian, who is running for senator under Partido Galing at Puso led by presidential candidate Grace Poe, has devised a detailed legislative portfolio to boost agricultural productivity throughout the Philippines.
Should he win in the Senate, the NPC congressman intends to craft legislation that would channel substantial investments into projects that would enhance productivity and improve disaster resilience.
In addition, Gatchalian intends to increase government support for the formation and development of agricultural cooperatives as these will help our farmers tap into economies of scale, access formal credit markets, and increase their resilience to economic and climatic shocks.
Agricultural output contracted by 0.96 percent in the last quarter of 2015, which PSA-BAS pinned on damages caused by Typhoon “Lando” and the long dry spell.
The crops subsector, which accounts for a little more than half of the total farm output in the last quarter, also suffered a 2.69-percent slump in output. Meanwhile, production of the fishery subsector also dropped by 4.28 percent. (Monica Cantilero)