MANILA A congressman on Thursday said the government should increase its investments in agriculture development as well as climate change adaptation to combat the weakening conditions in the farming sector.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat made the statement following reports that the country's agricultural output declined slightly by 0.83 percent in the third quarter of 2018, mainly due to decreases in the output of the crops and fisheries sub-sectors.
Baguilat said economic managers, as well as the Department of Agriculture, should pursue urgent measures to boost agriculture output and adapt to climate change, noting that the adverse effects of natural disasters have in part weakened the agricultural sector.
He suggested that investments be made in irrigation and watershed protection, particularly citing the need for strategic investments in critical watersheds so that the country will be assured of water supply to urban cities and vital farmland.
No real economic growth is possible if sustainable development goals are not equally observed. What sense is profit if people and the planet are left behind? Baguilat said.
"We should do all we can to boost that farm output to keep prices down and increase the revenues of our food producers, he added.
Baguilat also pushed for the passage of the National Land Use Act and the Indigenous Communities Conservation Areas to ensure that prime agricultural land will not be reduced to give way to urbanization and protect indigenous peoples' cultural practices relating to agriculture and the environment.
We should prioritize food security and protect the land that we already have. As it is, we are already hard pressed to produce enough food to feed our growing population. We cannot afford to reduce that even further. With the National Land Use Act, there will be proper delineation of areas for agriculture and for other development purposes, he said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday that the crops sub-sector, which shared 45.58 percent in the total agricultural output, recorded a 3.64-percent decline in July to September on lower palay and corn production.
It said that output gains were recorded by coconut, sugarcane, banana, pineapple, coffee, mango, tobacco, abaca, tomato, and rubber.
Agriculture Secretary Manny PiAol, meanwhile, attributed the lower agricultural production to the impact of climate-related disturbances that affected the country during the period.
(There were) four 'habagats', (and typhoons) Ompong and Rosita, he said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
PiAol said six to eight more weather disturbances are expected before the current year ends.
He cited climate change as the biggest challenge to agriculture, especially the crops sector. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency