Alarmed by the decline in the country’s agri-fisheries production, fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged the administration to “take immediate action” and appoint a competent agri chief.
Citing the Philippine Statistics Authority’s data, Pamalakaya said the fisheries production in the last quarter of 2022 dropped by 6.6 percent.
“Indikasyon ito na malaki ang kapabayaan ng pamahalaan sa sektor ng agrikultura at pangisdaan sa bansa (This indicates that the national government has neglected the country’s agriculture and fisheries sectors),” said Pamalakaya National Spokesperson Ronnel Arambulo in a statement on Friday, Jan. 27.
Arambulo attributed this decline to the continuous oil price hike. Earlier, the group disclosed that majority of small-scale fishermen are forced to either seek alternative jobs or cut short their fishing trips due to expensive fuel.
According to the group, other factors that triggered the three-year decline in agri-fisheries production include the lack of government support to the marginalized sectors as well as its continuous refusal to provide production subsidies to those in need, noting that out of more than two million registered fishermen nationwide, only less than four percent have benefitted from the P3,000 fuel discount.
Apart from these, Pamalakaya also blamed reclamation projects, such as that in Manila Bay, for the said losses.
To address these matters, the national government was urged to appoint a competent and full-time agriculture chief.
“Sa ganitong kalagayan ng ating agrikultura at pangisdaan, higit na kinakailangan ng isang panibagong kalihim ng Department of Agriculture na may malalim na kaalaman, hindi pabaya, at may kakayahan na tugunan ang hinaing ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda (In this state of our agriculture and fisheries, a new Department of Agriculture secretary who has deep knowledge, is not careless, and has the ability to address the grievances of farmers, is more needed),” Arambulo stressed.