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Apr 7, 2016 @ 2:01

Ano daw? US-led trade group claims PH ain’t an agriculture country anymore

The Philippines is no longer an agricultural country, according to a foreign trade association.

Arangkada 2016, a policy note released recently by trade association composed of the American Chamber of Commerce and the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines (JFC), noted that agriculture accounts for a measly 10 percent (P789 billion) of the country’s GDP.

However, Arangkada also pointed out that despite this small contribution, agriculture remains a significant factor in the economy, specially since close to one-third of the work force (12 million of 38 million in 2013) relies on agriculture for livelihood.

Seventy-three percent of the country’s poor (38% are farmers and fishermen) live in the rural areas, where agriculture provides an economic lifeline…crucial to achieving inclusive growth.

Arangkada 2016 has offered some recommendations to revive the country’s agriculture, including revisions of the Comprehensive Land Reform Program Extension with Reforms, banks granting loans to farmers, and private business contributing through the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) projects by building farm-to-market roads, processing facilities, irrigation, food terminals and processing factories, aside from technical training in joint ventures.

The country’s failure in agriculture is evident in its rice production.

Dr. Amelia H. C. Ylagan, a columnist of the BusinessWorld, pointed out the government’s difficulty to meet its rice self-sufficiency goals.

In the ’70s and the ’80s and as late as 1992, the Philippines was self-sufficient in rice.

With a population of 65.34 million in 1992 and 238.71 grams rice per person per day, the country needed about 5.7 million metric tons (MMT) per year of rice. Local production reached 5.97 MMT and exported 35,101 metric tons.

But lands that used to be planted to rice had given way to subdivisions, commercial, and industrial establishments, and golf courses. The CARP did not also do good for rice production, too.

Since 1993, the Philippines has been a net importer of rice. In 2010, rice production was only 10.32 MT as against 10.59 MT requirement to feed 93.87 million Filipinos.

In 2011, Aquino promised rice self-sufficiency by 2013. But in 2014, there was a 71% increase from the previous year in the volume of rice imports totaling 1.2 MMT mostly from Vietnam and Thailand.

The Philippines was the eighth-largest rice importer globally and the largest in Southeast Asia in 2014. Rice production in 2015 only reached 18.86 MMT, 1.22 MMT short of the 20.08 MMT target. (30)


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