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Economic cluster calls for greater focus on agri

/ 12:16 AM February 07, 2019

Economic managers are calling on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to boost the farm sector’s performance as the administration continued to work on tempering inflation, noting that the industry “needs greater attention now more than ever” if the government wants to boost economic growth.

The call was made in a statement released by the government’s economic cluster after the report on the January inflation rate came out. Inflation on the first month of the year hit 4.4 percent, the slowest in 10 months, thanks to slower rise in the prices of food and nonalcoholic beverages and the continued improvement in the supply of food, particularly rice, corn and fish.

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Despite these developments, members of the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management said the DA must “facilitate a comprehensive crop management system to align farming activities with the prevailing supply-demand condition and weather pattern.”

As for fisheries, “sustainable management of coastal and other marine resources should be intensified, more so with the reported decline of available fish in open waters.”

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“There is a resounding consensus among members of the Economic Development Cluster that the agriculture sector needs greater attention now more than ever,” the statement said. “The agriculture sector must work toward resiliency and be adaptive to extreme weather events.”

Last year, unfavorable weather conditions pulled the agriculture sector’s growth rate down to 0.56 percent—way below the targets set by the Duterte administration and the DA at 2 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the agency was expecting a “better year ahead,” with the farm sector’s growth seen to even reach 3.5 percent.

Agriculture will rebound this year, with God’s grace and protection,” he said on his Facebook page.

Early indicators showed rice harvest in the first semester would be bountiful, he added.

The agency is currently bracing for the onset of El Niño in the first semester, which could affect 47 provinces in the country, nine of which are in Mindanao.

If the phenomenon would hit, it would delay the beginning of the rainy season and affect the planting calendar of food producers.

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TAGS: Department of Agriculture (DA), economic growth, Inflation
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