DA chief maintains 2% growth target for agri

Published October 22, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

Even with African Swine Fever (ASF) killing pigs and influx of imported rice threatening local production, the farm sector is still expected to grow by a modest 2 percent this year or just exactly the way Agriculture Secretary William Dar had first forecast it.

 Agriculture Secretary Dr. William D. Dar   (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU, MB Photo )
Agriculture Secretary Dr. William D. Dar (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU, MB Photo )

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said on Tuesday that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will “maintain” the same growth target for this year.

All of the issues, including the presence of the deadly swine disease ASF, has already been factored in, according to Dar.

“My outlook remains positive. Of course, not all your targets can be met and a lot of unexpected things happened like ASF for example,” Dar said.

“But rice [production] will still be the driving factor because crops sector is still the biggest [contributor] to total farm output,” he added.

ASF, a fatal animal disease, is currently the biggest threat to the country’s ₱260-billion local hog industry, resulting in deaths and culling of more than 62,000 pigs in different parts of Luzon.

As this happen, local rice production is also being threatened by the influx of imported rice, a development that has been pulling down the value of locally produced unhusked rice.

Dar, however, said that the release of funds under Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) will help address the issues in local rice production.
“The start of RCEF implementation will be a big factor [to the total agriculture growth for the year,” Dar said.

RCEF is the tariff collected from imported rice and is supposed to help rice farmers become competitive and more productive. Under the Rice Tariffcation Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203, RCEF should be first injected with ₱10 billion annually from 2019 to 2024 or a period of six years.

If achieved, an agriculture growth of 2 percent will be a huge improvement from the measly growth of 0.56 percent the sector recorded in the entire 2018.

Dar said that moving towards 2020, the growth should at least be 2.5 percent.

When he was appointed new agriculture secretary in August this year, Dar aimed to bring the agriculture sector’s growth performance up to 4 percent at least before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.

This was after Duterte gave him marching orders, which include driving the overall growth performance of the agriculture sector and actively engaging private companies to invest in the farm sector.

“The goal of the country is food sufficiency,” Dar said. “We will not achieve this immediately but we want this to happen in the next three years.”

If achieved, an agriculture growth of 2 percent will be a huge improvement from the measly growth of 0.56 percent the sector recorded in the entire 2018.

 
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