The Department of Agriculture (DA) — as a member of the economic development cluster (EDC) of the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte — strongly supports the five-point economic measures proposed by Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary and EDC chair Carlos G. Dominguez III to revive the Philippine economy, after surmounting the Covid-19 crisis in the country.
“Our role at the DA is highlighted as two of the five measures involve food production and logistics,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“Secretary Dominguez said the manufacture of products that have strong and inelastic demand such as food should be increased, and fresh food items should be stored efficiently so these would last,” the DA chief added.
“We truly appreciate the endorsement of Secretary Dominguez, recognizing our initiatives to increase the production of adequate and nutritious food in a cost-efficient manner, and the establishment of needed postharvest and storage facilities, and logistics systems,” Secretary Dar said.
Secretary Dominguez made the proposal at a May 11 meeting with President Duterte and members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the management of emerging infectious diseases in Malacanang.
He added that “we should support the whole value chain for food products, including food markets for efficient distribution, similar to fruit and vegetable markets established many years ago in Japan.”
Thus, the government should take the lead in stimulating consumer demand to help businesses survive and keep the economy afloat, as President Duterte’s economic team and legislators finalize the economic recovery program, the DOF chief said.
“So, we have to stimulate demand, and that’s with ‘Build, Build, Build’ and push food production,” added Secretary Dominguez, who previously served as agriculture chief during the Corazon Aquino administration.
“We at the entire DA family will passionately take on the challenge that similar to the ‘Build, Build, Build’ initiative we will do our counterpart ‘Plant, Plant, Plant’ program to ensure sustained food production coupled with efficient postharvest, marketing and logistics systems,” said Secretary Dar.
“All our hands are on deck as part of the President Duterte’s economic team’s effort in jumpstarting the economy and attracting more investments to buoy capacities of the country’s agri-fishery sector,” he added.
“We assure President Duterte, Secretary Dominguez, and fellow EDC and IATF members, that we at the DA will do our utmost in pump-priming and industrializing Philippine countryside in partnership with the LGUs and captains of industry,” said secretary Dar.
To date, he added, more than 340 LGUs nationwide have bought P1.9-billion worth of various agri-fishery produce from farmers and fishers nationwide. This is on top of the continuing purchases of fresh, processed and manufactured food and basic necessities by agribusiness enterprises and conglomerates nationwide. ### (Tomas Marquez, DA StratComms)