Dar urges private sector to invest in agriculture

Agriculture Secretary William Dar called on the private sector to invest in agriculture to help the government achieve its vision of a “food-secure and resilient Philippine agriculture with prosperous farmers and fisherfolks.”


In a meeting with the leaders of Foundation for Economic Freedom, Dar said that private sector should come in and invest in areas that would help farmers and fisherfolks improve their productivity and income by putting in place the needed infrastructure such as expansion in post-harvest facilities, cold storage, food terminal, food processing and SPS (sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures) facilities.


The DA is partnering with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to establish the country’s first “agro-industrial business corridor” at the New Clark City, Pampanga.


“This should entice private sector to invest and allow greater application of modern farm technology and knowledge, and integrate smallholder farmers by providing them access to resources including state-of-the-art production technology, capital and value adding facilities, he added.


Despite the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture still posted a positive growth of 1.6 percent in the second quarter while all other sectors were negative.  However, its proposed budget for 2021 was slashed from P204 billion to only P66.4 billion, prompting Dar to urge the business community to invest in farming and agribusiness.


Dar said that he would maximize the use of the appropriated budget for the sector to implement the projects and hopefully, still achieve good results. “Whatever budget is given to us, I will spend it (to implement projects) up to the last centavo,” he said.


Dar outlined the five key strategies that the DA will be implementing towards achieving its vision. These include farm consolidation/clustering to encourage partnerships between big businesses and farmer cooperatives; modernization, which will be enhanced through the use of digital technology, internet of things and hybrid materials, among others; industrialization, where big businesses can come in to industrialize the sector; export promotion to implement a holistic export strategy plan to increase exports and infrastructure development to build farm to market roads, post-harvest and production facilities, cold storage, warehouses and 3As slaughterhouses, among others.


DA needs bigger budget allocation


Mr. Roberto C. Amores, director of PCCI Agriculture Committee, earlier appealed to government and Congress to increase the budget allocation of the DA so it could implement the necessary reforms and programs that would benefit farmers, fisherfolks and agribusiness entrepreneurs.


“We manifest our strong support for the increase of DA’s budget to fund the productivity programs of farmers, fisherfolks and agribusiness stakeholders and other programs of the department. We humbly ask our legislators and concerned executive departments to allocate sufficient and adequate budget for the agriculture sector,” Amore said, adding that agriculture is the only sector that “remained resilient” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.