The World Bank, in its latest report said transforming Philippine agriculture into a high-growth and dynamic sector will help speed up the country’s recovery, poverty reduction and inclusive growth.
Titled “Transforming Philippine Agriculture During Covid-19 and Beyond,” the report said transforming the country’s farming and food systems is even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure strong food value chains, affordable and nutritious food, and a vibrant rural economy.
“Modernizing the country’s agricultural sector is a very important agenda for the Philippines,” said Ndiame Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, said in a statement.
With the exception of a few small natural resource-rich countries, Diop said, no country has successfully transitioned from middle- to high-income status without having achieved an effective transformation of its agri-food systems.
“Transforming agriculture and food systems is always challenging, but the Philippines’ new vision for agriculture, it’s current thrust for diversification and use of modern technologies, and its effective management of food supply during this pandemic clearly indicate that the it is well-equipped to overcome the challenge,” he added.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the country’s vision is a food-secure and resilient Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk.
He said realizing this vision will “require dedicated efforts among major agri-fishery industry stakeholders, led by the Department of Agriculture, to continuously empower farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural entrepreneurs, and the private sector to increase agricultural productivity and profitability, taking into account sustainability and resilience.”
The World Bank report, which was prepared as part of its support to the Department of Agriculture’s “new thinking” in agricultural development, suggests shifting away from heavy focus on specific crops to improving the overall resilience, competitiveness, and sustainability of the rural sector.
Spending in the past had mostly focused on price support for selected crops and goods, and as subsidies on inputs such as fertilizer, planting materials, and machines.
Global experience shows that while ensuring the availability of key inputs remain important, reorienting significant public spending in research and development (R&D), infrastructure, innovation systems, market information systems, and biosecurity systems, results in faster poverty reduction and greater productivity gains through an overall agriculture modernization.
World Bank’s support to the Philippines includes long-running programs aimed at raising agricultural productivity and reduce poverty in rural communities, like the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) which aims to help increase rural incomes and enhance farm and fishery productivity.