Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, agribusiness and farm products processing now loom as the Philippines’ sunrise Subsector.
Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar said it is thus important to increase the productivity of agricultural products for the Philippines to become more competitive in the global market.
“Agribusiness will continue to be the emerging subsector in agriculture, along with processing of farm products,” Dar said during the recent Rebooting Philippine Agriculture webinar of the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC).
Dar said the country should further develop cacao and coffee industries, while Philippine cardava banana or saba, mango, and pineapple still have huge potential in foreign markets.
Christopher Ilagan, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) co-chairman, said the country can also look into sustainable agriculture products, such as animal protein and coconut oil.
Ilagan said three out of the 28 priority bills pushed by the JFC and Philippine Business Groups for enactment will improve the country’s agriculture sector. These include Farm Entrepreneurship Act, amendments to the Agri-Agra Law, and the Water Department Act.
The JFC also has recommended to the government to expand access to market both domestically and abroad by implementing Ease of Doing Business, pursuing reforms in the protection and incentive regime, and capitalizing on existing market arrangements; improving logistics and other services through policy reforms like amendments of the Public Service Law; expanding the implementation of provisions of the Agricultural Fisheries Modernization Act on public sector and research and development for agriculture to encourage private sector’s participation and innovation; and overhauling the agricultural extension system with the province as the focal point of governance and extension workers equipped with modern communication technologies.
To improve access to finance, the JFC has proposed an inclusive finance strategy for the smallholders and small fisherfolk, as well as support for agricultural finance, and move away from mandatory allocations towards incentivizing value chain finance.
The group also wants the promotion of individual fee simple rights through subdivision of collective certificate of land ownership award and lifting transfer and ownership restrictions, and shifting toward more consolidated farmland operations by lifting ownership ceilings on agricultural land.
The JFC has likewise suggested intensified infrastructure investment by expanding private sector investments in private infrastructure goods, such as post harvest facilities, cold storage, and food terminals and by concentrating public investments on public goods and quality services. (With PNA)