The Department of Agriculture expects a modest growth of 2.5 percent in agriculture next year, faster than the 1-percent increase this year amid the pandemic.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a year-end report while COVID-19 continued to affect the national economy, the need for sustenance remains a top priority.
“For this reason alone, agriculture registered positive contributions to the economy compared to the other movers of the economy such as construction, real estate and manufacturing,” he said.
Agriculture joined the top three industries that posted positive rates in the third quarter. These were financial and insurance activities at 6.2 percent; public administration and defense, compulsory social activities, 4.5 percent; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing, at 1.2 percent.
The Philippine Statistical Authority earlier said the Philippine gross domestic product shrank 11.5 percent in the third quarter, an improvement from the previous quarter’s contraction of 16.9 percent.
The Asian Development Bank sees the Philippine economy dropping 7.3 percent while the International Monetary Fund predicts an 8.3-percent decline in 2020.
“But whatever the forecast is, your department sees the Philippine agriculture sector to remain as a robust contributor to the economy,” Dar said.
He said the sector could do more if it was given the recognition and support it deserved, especially in the case of its modest share to the national budget.
Agriculture’s share in the general appropriations stood at a minimal 1.7 percent in 2020, which was quite insignificant compared with Indonesia’s 3.4 percent, Thailand’s 3.6 percent and Vietnam’s 6.5 percent, Dar said.
He said the share is minuscule considering that the sector contributes about 10 percent to the GDP and employs around a third of the Filipino labor force.
“The department urges our legislators to provide more support to the agriculture sector by providing resources for better inputs for farm and fishery production, irrigation, post-harvest facilities [drying and milling], transport, and the use of newer technologies such as digital agriculture and drones, among others,” he said.
“We believe that with better guidance and support, overall productivity in the sector can be significantly raised to enhance the country’s food security and at the same time increase the incomes of our farmers and fishers,” Dar said.