DTI pushes for more agri investments in Mindanao

Published November 2, 2020, 5:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has pushed for more investments and innovation in agriculture in Mindanao stressing this is the best way to ensure growth for this industry and maximize its huge potential to help in the country’s economic recovery.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez. (ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO FILE PHOTO)

                “Digital innovation will surely create more opportunities to strengthen agribusiness, reinforce collaborations between government and industry, and accelerate the development of the agriculture sector in Mindanao,” said Lopez in a speech before the virtual 22nd Davao Agri Trade Expo.

He said DTI is committed to promoting agribusiness as a “tool not only to reboot and boost the agricultural sector, but also to assist our economy in the wake of COVID-19.”

                The trade chief urged for more investments in agriculture in Mindanao, the country’s biggest food basket, to help in the country’s economic recovery. 

Mindanao’s top exports – bananas, coconut, pineapples, other fruits, and nuts – account for 84.3 percent of the country’s total exports with an aggregate value of P1.30 billion as of the 2nd quarter of 2020.

Likewise, export-oriented agri-production and processing for food and non-food are still the top priority industry for investments in the Davao Region.

“With this in mind, the government recognizes that tapping prospects in agribusiness and pushing for its advancement is one way to achieve inclusive growth in the country,” he said.

DTI has targeted agribusiness to be the forerunner for innovation initiatives in the region.

In particular, processed fruits and functional food were tagged as focus sectors by our Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC) in Davao. This RIIC—the Innovation through Science, Technology, and Risk-Resilient Based Initiatives towards Knowledge Economy or iSTRIKE Davao—is a collaborative body in the region tasked to implement our Inclusive Industrial Innovation Strategy (i³S).

Since its inception in 2018, iSTRIKE has assisted more than 300 micro, small, and medium enterprises and innovators belonging to the focus sectors.

On DTI’s part, the DTI-XI was able to assist 22,025 MSMEs last year. Majority of these were agri-based, such as banana, cacao, coffee, coconut, and processed fruits and nuts.

In addition, among the priorities under the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is the implementation of the Comprehensive National Industrial Strategy, which includes agribusiness as a priority area.

The vision, he said, is to transform the agriculture sector from traditional farming to a globally-competitive agribusiness sector.

This will be carried out in phases: productivity improvement of  high value crops; strengthening linkages among agro-processing and supply chains and commodity clusters; and deepen the sector’s participation in global value chains or regional production networks.