Philippine Daily Inquirer | 10/25/2009
By Amy R. Remo
THE Department of Agriculture targets to allocate some P40 billion or 86 percent of its 2010 budget for support services to help prepare the farmers for a more liberalized international trading system next year.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap said global trade was one of the two critical challenges to the farm and fisheries sector, thus, the government would help farmers to add value to their commodities.
“As more economies open their doors to a liberalized international trading system in 2010 and the near future, we will brace and equip our stakeholders with the necessary tools in order to survive and flourish in this new, open and brutal global trading order,” Yap said.
Beyond mere production, Yap said the DA would equip farmers through the provision of necessary facilities, including flat bed dryers, corn drying centrals, fish ports and storage warehouses.
“Our regulatory agencies are also being capacitated by competent staff, supported with the correct equipment and tools to ensure that we stay foot-and-mouth disease and bird flu-free, and we can continue our disease eradication efforts with the private sector,” Yap said.
He said the private sector would remain the farm sector’s valuable contributor, and the primary driver of growth.
“The visionaries are evaluating and assessing growth possibilities in the Philippines as the global economy slowly rebounds. The Philippines is now emerging as the preferred biofuels production hub in Asia with a mandated 600-million liter E10 requirement of ethanol by 2015, and a commensurate volume for biodiesel,” he explained.
Yap said many foreign companies were now positioning for investments in the Philippines such as the Far East Agriculture Corp., a consortium of at least 10 agribusiness companies from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Next month, these companies are expected go back to the Philippines for site selection in areas of rice, corn, poultry and livestock production.
The Brunei Investment Authority has visited Mindanao extensively over the last few months and is preparing an investment proposal, while Charoen Phokphand, a Thai food conglomerate, has announced last month that it was investing $40 million in select areas in Luzon for integrated feeds and prawn hatcheries and grow out farms.
Beidahuang, which farms close to a million hectares of wheat in Northern China and is the biggest seeds manufacturer in that country, has just signed an agreement with private sector partners to invest in seeds production here last month.“The agriculture sector is all set for the economic rebound with 37 percent of agriculture and fishery companies planning expansion for early 2010 and I doubt that these recent twin natural calamities can stop the growth of the sector. A recovering global economy and a strong 91 million population as a domestic consumption base, are just too compelling, as realities, to ignore,” Yap said.