Gov’t warned of ‘food catastrophe’
An agricultural group has urged the government to boost its support for private firms in the agriculture sector, to allow them to expand food production amid the looming “food catastrophe” here and abroad.
Danilo Fausto, president of Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), said the government should put in place a sound investment environment to allow private companies to increase their output, instead of resorting to massive importation of subsidized agricultural products.
“Government should provide the right environment and incentives for the private sector to invest, expand their production, value chain and supply chain logistics, not kill them with competition from cheap and subsidized imported products,” said Fausto at PCAFI’s first hybrid assembly since the pandemic began.
Just recently, the Duterte administration announced another round of importation as estimates showed a fish supply shortfall. For the second quarter, the Department of Agriculture (DA) authorized the importation of 38,695 metric tons (MT) of frozen fish and fishery/aquatic products to stabilize supply and prices.
But Fausto said importation was a short-term solution to ensuring food security. For the long term, he said the country should focus on increasing local production.
He noted that countries such as India, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kosovo and Serbia have already banned wheat exports.
“Providing cheap food for the consumers and fighting inflation through imports is a short term solution. Producing our own food requirements, although a much longer process, will be more sustainable for our people,” said Fausto.
“We appeal for a level playing field from government. Doing otherwise, we will be shooting ourselves not in the foot but in the head,” he added.
Amid the country’s increasing debt, Fausto said the government should raise the budget for the agriculture sector for 2023 and ensure fair distribution within the DA.
“We appeal to government that food production should not be sacrificed when the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) undertakes hair-cuts for future budget allocation program,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.