Dar vows to continue reforming Philippine agriculture
DA Secretary William Dar reaffirmed his commitment to transforming Philippine agriculture and helping to build the resilience of the country’s agro-fishing sector. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
WITH over decades of experience in agriculture, Agriculture Secretary William Dar has advocated for various programs aimed at transforming and uplifting the country’s agriculture and fishing sector. Under his leadership as the country’s food czar, he pledged to continue working on reforms that will increase farmers’ incomes and enable them to produce more food for Filipino households. On October 15, on World Food Day, Dar reaffirmed its commitment to transform Philippine agriculture and help build the resilience of the country’s agrifood sector.
To do this, he said, a higher budget is needed for the Ministry of Agriculture (DA), coupled with greater investments in the agricultural sector.
In addition, it requires increased support for the OneDA reform agenda to catch up with the changing world, Dar said. The OneDA reform program, made up of the pillars of consolidation, modernization, industrialization and professionalization with 18 key strategies, serves as a guide for the department to increase the productivity and profitability of agricultural and fishing activities at the local level.
The head of Agriculture lamented that in recent years, only 1.6% of the national budget has been allocated to agriculture, “the sector that has kept our economy afloat at the height of the Covid crisis” . This compares to the national budget allocation to agriculture and fisheries in neighboring countries such as Vietnam at 6.5 percent and Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia at 3.4, 3.6 and 2 , 3 percent, respectively.
The DA has proposed an increase in the budget to 91 billion pesos in 2022, from 90 billion pesos in 2021 as a starting point.
Among the reforms proposed in DA’s new budget program are the application of digitization to agriculture and fisheries, research and development of value-added products for export markets such as coconut and bananas, the development of an African swine fever vaccine and the reconstruction of the local pig population. .
Dar’s leadership capitalized on the application of technology and innovation in Philippine agriculture. This will not only increase the country’s food sufficiency, but also make the Philippine agricultural sector competitive with its peers in Southeast Asia, the chief of agriculture said. “I advocated for the application of digital agriculture to the entire agricultural value chain. At the pre, during and post production stages, we piloted the use of satellite imagery to have better information on what is happening in our operations and to have a more precise measurement of damages and losses once Destructive typhoons have hit the country, ”Dar said in an exclusive interview with The Manila Times.
“We are now also exploring the use of drone technology to detect pests and diseases in plants and its use in the application of pesticides and other chemicals to protect our plants,” he added.
Downstream efforts At the downstream level, the DA, through its Kadiwa program, is able to connect buyers (individuals, institutions and local communities) directly with cooperatives and farmers’ associations (FCA). “It rids the system of layers of traders that increase the end cost of food,” Dar said.
On the beneficiary side, the head of agriculture noted that the DA is also in the process of completing the Farmers and Fisheries Register, which contains the list of farmers and fishermen eligible for assistance from the agency. “Once the system becomes robust, innovations in the provision of assistance can be implemented, such as direct deposit of cash assistance into their farmers’ ATM accounts instead of beneficiaries queuing in local and local agricultural offices to receive their “ayuda”, he noted.
Dar said the DA will continue to integrate digital technologies into Philippine agriculture, as it helps the government improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing policies and programs, thereby reshaping the country’s agriculture and food system. .
“The application of digital agriculture is not only about increasing agricultural productivity, but also about making nutritious food available to consumers at affordable prices, accelerating the delivery of much needed services to our farmers and fishermen and ensure that only eligible farmers and fishermen benefit. direct help from the ministry, ”Dar explained.
He also urged local business leaders to allocate a respectable budget to implement their respective agricultural development programs.
“Overall we will be leaving with the sector, but not in the ideal state we imagined it to be at this point due to the combination of challenges we have faced during our tenure, it will be a agricultural sector ready to prepare for rapid and high growth once the economic recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic kicks off next year, ”Dar said.