Picture of Rommel Hallares
DA not giving up on 4% growth target by 2022
by Rommel Hallares - Tuesday, 3 March 2020, 01:13 PM
Published March 2, 2020, 10:00 PM (Manila Bulletin)

Local rice productivity is still under threat from the influx of imported rice, the country’s hog population is falling day by day due to African Swine Fever (ASF), and the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in China is now affecting the country’s agriculture exports.

But Agriculture Secretary William Dar has remained positive that the sector he has been trying to save from further decline could still pull off a 4 percent annual growth in three years.

Dar said that starting this year until 2022, the Department of Agriculture (DA) still aims to attain a progressive annual growth rate of two, three and four percent for the agriculture and fishery sector.

“It will be a tall order, mainly due to natural and man-made calamities that will impact on the production of rice, corn, vegetables, major crops, swine, poultry and fishery products, but we are confident we could attain such modest growth rates in the next three years,” said Dar.

He said this during the DA’s last management committee (ManCom) meeting held regularly. The latest ManCom meeting was held last week in Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

During the meeting, Dar ordered about 80 heads of DA and its attached agencies to give their utmost to attain the “2-3-4” annual growth rates this year up to 2022.

“We must elevate our game, continue to ‘reboot’ ourselves, and strengthen and synchronize our efforts. This will enable us to effectively and cost-efficiently implement programs and projects under our new thinking for agriculture that envisions a food-secure Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk,” Dar said.

Last year, the agriculture sector grew only by 0.7 percent, only slightly higher than the annual growth level of 0.6 percent recorded in 2018.

Dar said that from now on, DA’s strategies will all be based on science and statistical analysis, a move that will enable the agency to map out the progress of the implementation of programs and find other sources of growth.

The DA chief lamented over the continual downward trend of agriculture sector’s share to the nation’s economy, from 2000 to 2019, where its average contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) actually slid to 11.6 percent.

Further, from 2000 to 2018, the agriculture sector grew at a dismal 1.7 percent annually.

During the nine-year period, the major contributors to the agriculture sector were palay (19.7 percent), fisheries (18.5 percent), livestock (13.8 percent), and poultry (10.9 percent), corn (5.6 percent), banana (4.7 percent), and coconut (4.1 percent).

On the erratic growth of the agriculture sector, Dar said that “obviously its performance is highly dependent on the vicissitudes of weather. Thus, better weather prediction strategies for typhoons, El Niño, and La Niña should be strengthened and enhanced.”

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