Professor Bernardo Villegas once said in his past speech that agri-business is one of the sunshine sectors to watch for. Meaning, despite the emergence of manufacturing and service sectors as the driving force of the Philippine economy, agriculture is still very much likely to help in the economic development.
Dr. Jose Rene Gayo, Vice Chairman for Agribusiness and Countryside Development of Management Association of the Philippines and Vice President of MFI Foundation, mentioned in his article, “A Case for Rural Development”, that people are valuable assets both in any business organizations and as customers. It is the people who are producing the business and the consumers are also the people.
If United Kingdom is a world economic power because of industrialization, the Philippines can also become an economic power if it develops our main economy in the past- agriculture. We need to develop agriculture and the rural sectors to make our path to prosperity rest on solid ground. Economists also use a simile to illustrate this. You need to develop agriculture to propel the economy for a takeoff just as a plane needs a thrust to fly.
The reason why the people from rural areas are migrating to Metro Manila, that’s why creating some problems like informal settlers, living in the creeks, etc., is the lack of opportunities in the rural areas. So, the real problem is how our government address in developing the rural areas, particularly agriculture.
Mr. Roque Sorioso said that there is also the serious issue of the nature of Philippine economic growth being described as non-inclusive. The Philippine GINI coefficient remains low and wealth generated by growth hardly benefits the poor. Economic growth mainly generates wealth for the upper and middle classes only. More effort needs to be exerted in jobs creation, education and rural infrastructure development for a more inclusive growth model to take root.
Dr. Gayo said that one of the key programs to do this is the implementation of the agrarian reform. The Philippines has the longest running land reform program since Pres. Macapagal days and until now this agenda is unfinished. Countries like Japan, Korea, and Taiwan finished their land reform in less than 10 years. The Comprehensive Land Reform Program is 25 years old and it is still an unfinished business. The question then is: did the Philippines achieve its objectives?
In able to improve the lives of the people in rural areas, our government should focus on agriculture so that the lives of the people in rural areas will improve and few of them will migrate to Metro Manila. It will also mean more economic activity, more productive pursuits, and more employment opportunities. Finally, it will mean more poor people graduating and joining the ranks of the middle class and given the chance to live their lives more in keeping with their dignity as human beings.
When our country dreams of industrialization, it needs to expand and improve its agricultural production. Improving agricultural production can also improve the real estate development in the rural areas like building warehouses, roads, airports, and seaports, and PPP projects of the government, etc.
According to Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Field Operations, Edilberto De Luna, the progress in agriculture sector has improved from 2011 up to 2012. Based on his presentation, “The Role of Agriculture in Sustainable Development”, some of the progress in agriculture includes that by reducing down to 64% of rice importation, the Philippines is no longer the world’s top rice importer; thousands of jobs were created in mariculture parks because the fisheries sector moved from fish capturing to fish farming; the country’s livestock are free from major diseases, giving the animal raisers to export meat products; agriculture generated a total of 227,000 jobs in the 1Q of 2012, a 49% increase from 152,000 in 1Q 2011; and infrastructure, DA invested in public goods that individual farmers cannot afford- irrigation, farm-to-market roads, tramlines, post harvest facilities, etc.
He presented the key challenges to address the challenge to achieve sustainable development for the Philippines:
IRRIGATION- Frontloading of irrigation investments to attain the objective of zero rice importation by year 2013:
- Construct new systems and rehabilitate and restore existing irrigation systems;
- Install/construct small-scale irrigation projects
- Generate 174,239 hectares of irrigated areas: 70,947 from construction of new systems, 62,557 from rehabilitation, and 40,735 from restoration of existing irrigation systems;
- Install/construct around 10,159 small-scale irrigation projects
- Construct and rehabilitate a total of about 1,200 kilometers of concrete farm-to-market roads
POSTHARVEST FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
- Distribute 17,188 units of postharvest equipment and machineries such as dryers, threshers, milling equipment, and postharvest equipment and machineries for fisheries
- Construct 3,254 postharvest facilities for drying, storage, processing and biogas digesters
- Maintain 62 mariculture parks and construct 16 new municipal fishports
- Establish 7 trading centers
- Establish 271 and upgrade 620 food terminals
- Establish 66 Livestock Auction Markets (LAMs)
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
- Fund/conduct 4,650 research and development activities
- Fund/establish, upgrade, and maintain a total of 361 research facilities
- Maintain disease-free status on Foot and Mouth Disease (without vaccination) and Avian Influenza, and strengthen disease prevention activities across all commodities
- Issue regulatory documents including certificates, clearances, permits, licenses, and registrations
- Establish new product standards and continually enforce all existing product standards
EXTENSION SUPPORT, EDUCATION, AND TRAINING
- Conduct training and training-related events for LGU extension workers, farmers, fisherfolk and graduates of e-learning courses
- Provide scholarship grants to scholars, both for degree and non-degree courses
- Disseminate information, education and communication (IEC) materials including print and audio-visuals
IMPROVE ACCESS TO CREDIT
- Assist individuals to grant or access credit
- Provide institutional capacity building (ICB) activities to farmers and fisherfolk
According to Mr. De Luna, “It is imperative to pursue SD in agriculture because agriculture will die if we do not do so. If we will all work together in achieving sustainable agriculture, we may be able to meet the needs of the present as well as help ensure that future generations meet their own.”
Real estate sector can help agricultural sector, which is a very vulnerable sector as described by Mr. De Luna, by setting their sights on real estate projects in rural areas too. “Imperial Manila is no longer the sweet heart of real estate investors,” Mr. Ramon Cuervo said during a round table meeting with real estate economists and consultants last October. It is true. We need to expand our real estate projects to the rural areas as it will benefit both the 2 sectors.
With sources from:
- Dr. Jose Rene Gayo
- Roque Sorioso, Jr.
- DA Asst. Secretary Edilberto De Luna’s presentation at http://www.pcsd.ph/news_updates/articles/NEWS%202012/Program/6-THE%20ROLE%20OF%20AGRI%20SECTOR%20IN%20SD_P.Alcala.pdf
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