JICA: Agriculture is key to PH development

JICA: Agriculture is key to PH development

03:01 PM May 02, 2024

JICA: Agriculture is key to PH development

JICA Philippines Chief Representative Sakamoto Takema during his presentation at the 40th Joint Meeting of PHILJEC and JPECC. PHOTO FROM PHILJEC

MANILA, Philippines—A ranking official of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has identified agriculture as the backbone of the Philippine economy.

In a presentation at the 40th joint meeting last March of the Philippine-Japan Economic Cooperation (Philjec) and Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee (JPECC), JICA Philippines Chief Representative Sakamoto Takema cited data showing the pivotal role that agriculture plays in the Philippine economy.


He said in 2022, almost a quarter of the Philippine labor force is in agriculture. Employment in the sector used to be higher in the past, he said.


The decline in agricultural employment, Sakamoto said, mirrors the negative perception, especially among younger generations, of agriculture as antiquated and unprofitable.

He said job creation is one of the challenges facing the Philippines coupled with the need for food security.

Sakamoto cited statistics showing that agricultural communities have the highest poverty incidence at 30 percent compared to the national average of just 18.1 percent.

These, he said, were indicators of the need to modernize and develop Philippine agriculture.

On rice, Sakamoto said, the Philippines used to enjoy a self-sufficiency rate of 100 percent in the late 1970s. This has gone down to just 77 percent in 2022, he said.

But the average rice yield per hectare has been improving over the years. Philippine rice yield is now higher than the average for countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), he said.


Sakamoto said while efforts still have to be exerted to improve food production, it was also important to reduce post-harvest losses.

He cited as example the post-harvest loss rate in rice, which was estimated to be 15 percent compared to only eight percent in Vietnam.

Sakamoto said data showed that Philippine agriculture most needed modernization and development to bring higher income to farmers and provide a stable and affordable supply of food to Filipinos.

JICA has had a rich history of cooperation in the agriculture sector in the Philippines, dating back to the 1970s.

Over the decades, JICA has been supporting Philippine agriculture through the development infrastructure, like irrigation facilities and farm-to-market roads.

JICA also brought Japanese technology, experts and programs to develop the skills of Filipino agricultural professionals, according to Sakamato.

JICA’s cooperation continues to evolve with current trends and needs of the agriculture sector.

In recent years, JICA has also incorporated market-oriented approaches and public-private partnership (PPP) promotion in its programs.

Possible cooperation in improving post-harvest process in rice is being explored by JICA.

Sakamoto said to bring affordable food to Filipino consumers, there was a need to streamline, improve and modernize every stage of the value chain from production, logistics to marketing.

Concerted efforts to attract more employment in the agriculture sector, through higher incomes, will be essential for sustainable development not only in the countryside but nationwide.

Sakamoto said the private sector will also play an increasingly important role in modernizing Philippine agriculture to complement collaborative efforts by farmers, government agencies and development partners, like JICA.

He asked Philippine and Japan private sector representatives at the forum to invest proactively in agriculture and take advantage of the sector’s tremendous commercial opportunity.

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The annual bilateral conference aims to promote and strengthen business relations between Japan and the Philippines. Top officials and executives from the public and private sectors of both countries were in attendance.

TAGS: Business, Japan, Jica, PH agriculture

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