Business & Economy

Presidential bets asked to present agri plans

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A coalition of five groups advocating the advancement of the agriculture sector called for a presidential debate that will give the candidates more time to speak, hopefully, about their platform for the rural folk.


The coalition is led by Alyansa Agrikultura and includes the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (Pcafi), Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (Camp), Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) and Agriculture Fisheries 2025 (AF2025).

Pcafi represents agribusiness operators, including 32 organizations along the agricultural commodities value chain. Camp represents the academe and is composed of professors and scientists from universities and research institutes.

PKKK has chapters spread across 42 provinces while AF2025 is described as representing different agriculture stakeholders.

Emil Q. Javier, Camp spokesperson and a former president of the University of the Philippines, said in a briefing that the debate held in Cagayan de Oro City was a big disappointment.

“We waited for them to discuss their plans to uplift our agriculture sector, but what we heard were lofty words bereft of meaning,” Javier said. “But what can you expect to say in just 30 seconds?”

AF2025 spokesperson Roberto Amores agreed, saying that aside from having more time to talk, future debates should have agriculture as a topic for discussion.

“We want to hear about their programs for agriculture which, having been expressed, will be part of their commitments if elected,” Amores said.

Coalition convenor Ernesto M. Ordoñez agreed, saying that “farmers need more than just a few seconds of sound bites.”

The five groups submitted their proposed priority initiatives for the sector, including making the Department of Agriculture an effective bureaucracy.

They said that, like the Department of Trade and Industry, the DA should submit to the Philippine Institute of Development Studies a road map for the agriculture subsectors.

The DA should also require its units to achieve a globally accepted management system such as ISO 9000, they added.

Second, the coalition said the DA should form agriculture and fisheries councils that would ensure the participation of stakeholders, especially in monitoring how the department spends its budget.

Third, the five groups said the DA should provide support to some 17,000 agriculture extension workers who were working within local government units.

Fourth, they demanded greater funding that would provide farmers and fishers better access to credit and insurance.

Fifth, provider farmers and fishers subsidies and technical support in order to make Philippine agriculture globally competitive.

Sixth, the coalition wants the new President to ensure that farmers and fishers actually benefit from initiatives such as agrarian reform, fisher resettlement program, competitiveness-enhancing measures for food self-sufficiency, and the fund and assets from the coconut levy.

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