Photo: Sec Carlos Dominguez keynotes the Sulong Agrikultura in Davao City
QUEZON CITY, Dec. 18 -- The Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Agriculture (DA)—led by Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez and Secretary William D. Dar, respectively—said the recommendations forwarded by the participants at the Sulong Pilipinas 2019 Agribusiness Summit will be presented to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for immediate action.
“Rest assured that the programs and plans of action proposed at the Sulong Pilipinas 2019 Agribusiness Summit will be guided by the principles of good governance, transparency, consultative engagement and, most importantly, with greater sense of urgency, as well as continue to create a much better narrative for Philippine agriculture,” said Dar, whose message was read on his behalf by DA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rodolfo Vicerra.
Secretary Dominguez, for his part, urged conference participants to “think out of the box as this is the moment to break out from the structures that trapped so many Filipinos in poverty for far too long.”
“We truly appreciate the keen interest and zeal of the various stakeholders in putting forth their recommendations during the Sulong Pilipinas workshops,” said Dominguez.
He added that the Duterte government’s economic team will review the recommendations.
These include delivering easy access to credit, setting up of standard protocol on biosecurity measures, providing high-quality and disease-resistant varieties.
The creation of a separate Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, to institutionalize fisheries management areas using science-based methodologies was also recommended.
In addition, strengthening policies and enforcement of support pricing mechanisms on palay and crop buying, expanding fertilization program in coconut-producing areas, enacting into law the pending bill on the utilization and management of the coco levy funds by 2020, providing assistance and incentives to support agricultural value chain, providing scholarships to entice the youth to participate in the agriculture, and establishing more learning sites for more farm commodities were also recommended.
Dar said Philippine agriculture and the DA have to level up to make the sector more productive, competitive, sustainable, resilient and inclusive than it is today.
Over 650 participants from multilateral institutions, leaders of the agribusiness community and industry groups attended the Sulong Pilipinas Agribusiness Summit held at SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City on December 17, 2019.
They were joined by representatives from farmers’ and fishers’ groups, small and medium agri-enterprises, as well as regional and provincial agriculture officials.
This collaboration between DA and DOF with private sector stakeholders is expected to make for a more robust agribusiness sector founded on Dar’s eight paradigms of the ‘New Thinking’ for agriculture, which includes modernization and industrialization, among other crucial elements in sectoral transformation.
John Carlo Tria, incoming president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “Now more than ever, we need to turn our farmer to agribusiness entrepreneurs for them to meet the increasing demand for food as our economy grows. This also enables them to secure and expand their livelihoods and meet the challenges of climate change makes them compete with their counterparts in ASEAN.”
Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo said the bank welcomes the focus of this year’s Sulong Pilipinas which is aligned with LBP’s intensified push to boost agricultural production and increase the income of farmers and fishers in the country.
For its part, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) continues to provide farmers and fisherfolk access to financial products and services to increase yields, improve their lives, and contribute to national economic growth, said DBP President and CEO Emmanuel G. Herbosa.
“Our multi-faceted assistance – from funding clean water provisioning, irrigation systems, farm-to-market infrastructure, and encouraging organization of farmers’ cooperatives — builds possibilities for a sustainable and competitive agriculture and fisheries sector,” Herbosa said in a prepared statement.
Among the dignitaries who graced Sulong Pilipinas 2019 were: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board Member V. Bruce J. Tolentino, Board of Investments Governor Napoleon Concepcion, Asian Development Bank Alternate Director Paul Dominguez, DBP Senior Vice President Paul Lazaro, Saranggani Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez, Magsaysay Misamis Oriental Mayor Rey Buhisan, and Soralo South Cotabato Mayor Antonio Bendita.
The proposals from the Sulong Pilipinas 2019 Agribusiness Summit were in accordance with the suggestions made during the first Sulong Pilipinas also held in Davao City in June 2016 during the transition period for then-incoming President Duterte.
These included improving agricultural productivity and raising farmers’ incomes through education and the use of new farm technologies.
Sulong Pilipinas is a consultative forum that aims to keep the government in close touch with its citizens. Top recommendations that were implemented by the government included the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, National ID System Law, Ease of Doing Business Act, Universal Health Care Law, and the Build, Build, Build program. (DA)