Pandemic worsens gov’t neglect of PH agriculture 

PH Agriculture, farmers

MANILA, Philippines—Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, the agriculture and fisheries sector within the nation had been “stagnating.” The pandemic got here in like a powerful wave, hit the sector, and pushed it farther from the shore—removed from attainable restoration.

“Under the pandemic, agriculture has been weakened further by transport and logistical breakdowns, aimless import liberalization, lack of health facilities to contain the virus spread, and poor distribution of amelioration assistance to the rural masses,” a bunch of agriculture and fisheries organizations mentioned.

The assertion was launched by the Bayanihan sa Agrikultura, Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), Alyansa sa Agrikultura, Coalition for Agriculture and Modernization within the Philippines (CAMP) and Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI).

“We demand a reversal of this situation,” the teams mentioned.

“Agriculture can and should play a leading role in national economic recovery and, more importantly, in ensuring social and economic development for all.  To achieve this, urgent policy reforms must be institutionalized and implemented with decisiveness,” the assertion learn.

As the subsequent nationwide elections draw nearer, the organizations listed main improvement challenges that President Rodrigo Duterte’s successor was more likely to grapple with.

The subsequent administration, the teams mentioned, ought to rework agriculture “into an engine of economic growth, a generator of jobs, a social and economic stabilizer in the countryside and the cornerstone of the country’s food security.”

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Graphic by Ed Lustan

To information the subsequent leaders on this new problem forward of them, the organizations detailed the plight of farmers and fishermen and listed suggestions to enhance the agriculture sector’s present situation.

Low prioritization

Agriculture and fisheries sector, in line with the group of agri-fisheries organizations, accounted for 30 p.c of the nation’s labor power.

This consisted of some 10 million small farmers — with three hectares or much less of farm lands — farm staff, forest settlers, municipal fisherfolk, and different small-scale producers.

Based on the August 2021 Labor Force Survey (LFS) by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), out of the 44.23 million employed individuals in August, 25.1 p.c have been from the agriculture sector.

The Agricultural Indicators System (AIS) report launched in June confirmed that the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors had a ten.2 p.c contribution to the nation’s gross home product (GDP) in 2020.

The gross worth added (GVA)—used to measure the efficiency of the sector—in agriculture, fisheries and forestry in 2020 costs was P1.8 billion.

However, with the 25 p.c contribution from actions depending on agriculture — similar to agro-processing and ancillary companies — the sector’s whole GDP contribution rose to 35 p.c.

Unfortunately, regardless of enhancements in direct and oblique contribution of the sector to GDP, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will solely get two p.c of the nationwide finances for 2022.

Based on paperwork from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), out of the proposed P5.024 trillion nationwide finances for 2022, the DA will get solely P72 billion subsequent 12 months.

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Graphic by Ed Lustan

This was after the DBM rejected the DA’s proposed P250 billion finances for 2022.

READ: 2022 gov’t spending plan: Less for COVID, more for NTF-Elcac

According to Ibon Foundation, a non-profit analysis group, the “negligible budget” for agriculture mirrored the Duterte administration’s “glaringly low prioritization” of the sector.

“The already dismal 3.6 percent average annual share of agriculture and agrarian reform in the 2017-2021 national budgets under Duterte has fallen to an even smaller 3 percent in the proposed 2022 budget,” the group mentioned in an announcement.

“This average is also the lowest since the Ramos administration (3.5%),” it added.

The group additionally famous that the federal government’s lack of assist for the sector has worsened the decades-long decline of agriculture.

According to the Ibon Foundation, the agriculture sector grew by an annual common of 1.6 p.c in 2017 to 2020 beneath President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

This was solely virtually half of the two.9 p.c common annual development recorded up to now 16 years or from 2001 to 2016.

The sector’s annual common contribution of 9.8 p.c of GDP in 2017 to 2020 was additionally the smallest amongst post-Marcos administrations.

The Philippines additionally had a $7.7 billion common annual agriculture commerce deficit in 2018 to 2020 — the most important three-year deficit within the final 4 a long time.

Barely surviving

The group of agri-fisheries organizations additionally listed some of the most important points of the sector, which included lack of land tenure safety by farmers.

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture and Fisheries (CAF), Philippines holders or farm operators handle round 5.6 million parcels of land protecting at the very least 7.3 million hectares.

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Graphic by Ed Lustan

At least 99.1 p.c—or 5.5 million holdings or farms protecting 6.8 million hectares—within the Philippines is managed by particular person proprietors together with households or particular person holders or farm operators. Each particular person proprietor had a mean space of 1.2 hectares.

Corporate holdings or farms held a mean space of 97.1 hectares whereas holdings or farms operated by cooperatives managed 92.5 hectares common.

The PSA-led census additionally detailed that at the very least 46 p.c of the nation’s whole holding or farm parcels have been already totally owned by holders or farm operators.

According to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), in the course of the earlier months tons of of farmers have been granted land possession after a wait of a few years.

In March, 149 households acquired an 81.85-hectare government-awarded hacienda in Pili, Camarines Sur after a 27-year-ordeal in opposition to a non-public company. In the identical month, 249 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) from Capiz province have been awarded a complete of 398 hectares of agricultural land.

The following month, DAR mentioned 3,500 ARBs from SOCCSKSARGEN have additionally acquired Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) from the division.

READ: Agriculture in PH: Barely surviving migration, conversion, poverty

The farmers’ teams additionally raised as a difficulty restricted catch of marginal fishermen as a result of of “continuing encroachment by outsiders into municipal waters and fishing areas within the country’s territorial sea.”

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Graphic by Ed Lustan

Other points have been lack of agricultural assist companies, restricted processing of uncooked produce, inefficient advertising and marketing, transport, delivery of farm merchandise. Also contributing to poverty within the agricultural sector have been poor earnings of producers and lack of native provide and excessive costs for shoppers.

“The Philippines is a net food importing country,” the farmers’ teams mentioned.

“In recent years, excessive importations of agricultural and fisheries products – without the proper safeguard measures and safety nets provided by law – have seriously depressed farmers’ incomes,” they mentioned.

“Yet, consumer prices have fallen minimally,” they added.

Ibon Foundation mentioned that the nation’s dependence on meals imports continued to escalate in the course of the present administration because of the lack of significance given to applications to spice up home agriculture.

“For instance, the rice import dependency ratio rose from 5 percent in 2016 to 20.2 percent in 2019 in the wake of the Rice Liberalization Law of 2017,” Ibon added.

The import dependency ratio, in line with the group, has additionally elevated considerably over the identical interval within the following merchandise:

  • garlic: 89.1 p.c to 92.2 p.c;
  • potato: 14.8 p.c to 18.1 p.c;
  • beef: 32.7 p.c to 40.3 p.c;
  • tuna: 3.7 p.c to 17 p.c;
  • pork: 10.6 p.c to 12.9 p.c; and
  • galunggong: 0.4 p.c to 21.9 p.c

FFF and the opposite farmers’ teams additionally expressed lament over land conversion, degradation of pure assets together with soil, water sources, forests and different pure habitats.

Climate change additionally loomed giant, the teams mentioned.

According to information by the DAR, a complete of 97,592.5 hectares of agricultural land — the dimensions of Metro Manila and Cebu City — have been authorised for conversion to non-agricultural functions between 1998, the 12 months the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law took impact, and 2016.

The authorised conversion functions in DAR regional places of work consist of 80.6 p.c of agricultural land in Luzon, 7.8 p.c in Visayas and 11.6 p.c in Mindanao.

Pending functions for conversion, agricultural land reclassified by native authorities items, and illegally transformed lands are, nevertheless, not included within the information.

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Graphic by Ed Lustan

These points resulted in widespread poverty and loss of livelihood for the nation’s small farmers and fisherfolk.

“Three out of every four poor Filipinos are in rural areas,” mentioned the teams.

“Limited number and quality of job opportunities. Hence, big development disparity between rural and urban areas, and mass exodus to urban centers remains unabated,” they mentioned.

According to the Ibon Foundation, the poverty incidence amongst farmers was 31.6 p.c and 26.2 p.c for fisherfolk—each a lot increased than the nationwide common of 16.7 p.c.

“Under the Duterte administration, an average of 328,000 agricultural jobs were lost annually from 2017-2020, which is the worst among the last six administrations,” the group mentioned.

Major suggestions

The farmers’ teams listed some of measures which they mentioned have been must-do by the subsequent administration.

Some of these have been:

  • Recognize the most important function of agriculture and fisheries within the nation’s meals safety and financial restoration.
  • Adequate funding for agri-fisheries.
  • Focus on home manufacturing, productiveness and profitability of farmers
  • Protection for farmers from pandemics, calamities and local weather change occasions.
  • Increase funding in rural, market, post-harvest and agri-fishery services.
  • Genuine illustration and involvement of farmers, fishermen and different stakeholders in planning and monitoring.

Importation, the teams mentioned, “must be a last resort.” Income from imported items needs to be shared amongst producers and shoppers. The Rice Tariffication Act should be reviewed and adjusted.

Create and implement

The FFF, CAMP, PCAFI and Bayanihan sa Agrikultura additionally listed recommendations for the DA.

The DA, the teams mentioned, ought to lead the shift from mono-cropping to diversified farming.

Rural credit score and crop insurance coverage should not be exceptions however the norm, the teams mentioned.

“Mechanization, digital technology and appropriate innovations should be fast-tracked,” they mentioned.

Province-led agriculture and fisheries extension techniques should be totally carried out as these may assist strengthen partnership between the DA and native authorities items.

Other suggestions by the teams for the subsequent administration included:

  • Full implementation of agrarian reform with assist companies.
  • Creation of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources to assist defend Filipino fishermen within the West Philippine Sea.
  • A legislation on nationwide land and water use
  • Supervision by the DA of National Irrigation Administration

Women in agri-fisheries

“Women have a limited participation in areas like fisheries production, agricultural services and equipment or facilities,” the organizations famous.

Based on information from PSA, round 84 p.c of the 5.6 million holders or farm operators have been male whereas solely 16 p.c have been feminine.

“Usually, a female household member becomes a holder or farm operator in the absence of a male head or male household member,” the 2012 CAF report mentioned.

“Hence, this explains the nil percentage of female holders or farm operators in the country,” the report mentioned.

The common age of farm operators was 47.2 years outdated. Males amongst them have a mean age of 46.3 years outdated, or six years youthful than girls farm operators.

Wage distribution by gender of farmworkers likewise favored males. Male farm staff can obtain as much as P335 wage per day whereas girls farmworkers will solely get P304.

The farmers’ teams known as for fairness, productiveness and justice for an even bigger girls’s empowerment program in agri-fishery.


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