The private sector has urged the institutionalization of crop insurance and increase in agricultural land ownership by Filipinos to 25 hectares to ensure that the agriculture sector is bankable and attractive to investors.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President George T. Barcelon made his point at the forum on the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028, which was keynoted by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and attended by his department heads.
Aside from the other issues hampering the development of the agriculture sector, Barcelon emphasized the importance of crop insurance. “Crop insurance is very important otherwise banks would see the agriculture sector as not bankable,” said Barcelon.
There is no coherent crop insurance in the Philippines, which is prone to natural calamities, affecting agricultural production.
In addition, Barcelon said they have requested the legislators to amend the Agrarian Reform Law and increase the limit on land ownership by five times from the current five hectares to 25 hectares. The increased hectarage should allow investors enough leeway to invest in agricultural production as a five- hectare lot is too small for large track agricultural venture that requires mechanization and innovation.
Barcelon said that it is not cheap farm labor that attracts investors in agriculture, but large tracks of land to allow mechanization and innovation for productive agri venture as what other countries are doing.
The PCCI would also like the government to encourage more youth to go into agriculture, stating that agriculture nowadays in no longer “low tech” but are technology and internet-based already that should appeal to the youth.
“Every year we add more than one million young people into the workforce, that is what we hope in the PDP that industry has the absorptive capacity to hire these young people,” he added.
In addition, Barcelon said that the last Philippine Business Conference recommendations has called for the reinvigoration of the resource-based sector such as the mining.
He added that the private sector is confident the economy will grow robustly this year, but added there are some areas of concern such as power, logistics cost, connectivity and human skills that should be addressed in the new PDP.
“It is not enough for us to be in the radar but provide runway lights for them to land in our country, we have to address certain fundamental issues,” he said.
Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual echoed the points raised by Barcelon stressing the need to link agriculture to technology.