Recovery must continue. Seeing and reflecting on the much higher GDP forecasts for 2021, there is definitely a lot of hope for recovery.
Some good signs are the Purchasing Manufacturers Index rising to 50.1 last month from 47.3 in August. This means the job generating manufacturing sector (almost 8 million Filipinos out of the estimated 40+ million employed) brings hopes of much needed recovery and job protection. More jobs, more income- a multiplier for the economy. (https://mb.com.ph/2020/10/01/manufacturing-hits-7-month-high-in-sept/).
Enabling successful recovery and resilience means that the economy continues safely reopening, all while observing appropriate health protocols. Recent IATF resolutions facilitate this.
Also, building the confidence of consumers to patronize establishments is needed. This boosts consumption, which is a large part of our economy, and generates revenue.
Towards this, strong suggestions for businesses such as DOT accredited hotels and restaurants, even retail establishments maybe business organizations is to prepare simple videos for posting on their social media pages explaining their health protocols as based on the guidelines of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Tourism.
Another suggestion is to encourage prebooking of clients or customers either through phone or social media or apps. This will help follow capacity limits and remind customers of protocols and if necessary, facilitate contact tracing. QR codes and the already launched. The National ID can help.
These measures encourage customers to visit while reminding them to observe protocols when entering their establishments. This promotes safety and client engagement, especially in tourism, which employs roughly 5 million Filipinos.
For businesses, as I wrote before, a big help are reduced taxes proposed in the CREATE bill, and other necessary economic reforms
Hopes in VCO
Recent research b the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD)shows promise for Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) as a means of controlling COVID 19 infections. In case the research proves successful, we can expected an increased demand for the oil by next year. (https://mb.com.ph/2020/10/07/vco-experiment-on-covid-turning-out-to-be-promising/). Already, VCO bottles are seeing increased demand upon interview with supermarket attendants.
The hopes for VCO and the are two fold: a possible therapy for viral infections and a great benefit for coconut farms and their farmers. Of the about 10 million Filipinos employed in agriculture, Coconut farms employ the most at about 3.5 million, followed by the rice sector at about 2 million. Often, coconut lands are smallholder farms in sloped areas.
In a previous column, I wrote about how the coconut industry can be boosted with industrializing it, especially in Mindanao, which is the major coconut source of the country. This can employ millions more in the manufacture of coconut derivatives such as water, cleaning materials and others. (https://mb.com.ph/2020/09/28/imperatives-and-hopes/)
A key opportunity for farmers in this critical sector is to do intercropping with perennial crops such as robusta coffee and cacao, to plug the gap of supply for our own needs and reduce imports. With additional investments in this sector, the future is made brighter. More on this.
Online agribiz developments
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has launched an online portal for agribusiness for buyers of products. This will definitely create opportunities for its supported farm organizations and cooperatives, and prove a link for direct buyers. You can access it through www.agribiz.da.gov.ph. Another will be the Online Davao Agritrade Expo. To be launched on October 30, this first ever virtual portal will be a gam the link to portal Visit www.davaochamber.com/date to register for the launch.
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