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PH agriculture

Caricature: PH agriculture

WITH the continued onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people, including those in urban areas, see that salvation from hunger and poverty appears to be in the countryside.

Thus, no less than the World Bank (WB) acknowledged that transforming agriculture into “a dynamic, high-growth” sector is essential to the country to speed up recovery and poverty reduction.

Transforming the farming and food systems, it said, is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of so many people across the globe, including the Philippines.

Without doubt, modernizing the country’s agricultural sector is a very important agenda, according to Ndiame Diop, WB country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

With the exception of a few small natural resource-rich nations, no country has successfully transitioned from middle-to-high-income status without having achieved an effective transformation of their agri-food systems.

And Diop believes that the Philippines, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN), is well-equipped to overcome the challenge of transforming agriculture and the food system.

Titled “Transforming Philippine Agriculture During COVID-19 and Beyond,” the report was prepared by WB as its support to the Department of Agriculture’s “new thinking” on agricultural development.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the country’s vision is a food-secure and resilient Philippines, with prosperous farmers and fishermen, who comprise the bulk of the more than 100 million Filipinos.

Thousands of beleaguered rural people, formerly farmers and fishermen, in the heavily-congested Metropolitan Manila area now want a second wind in their respective provinces because of COVID-19.

“Talagang gusto na nilang bumalik sa kani-kanilang mga lugar dahil nahihirapan na sila sa Metro Manila,” said an official of the national government’s “BalikProbinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa Program.”

We commend the Duterte administration, led by the agriculture department, for laying the groundwork to ensure the achievement of a globally competitive agricultural sector and sustainable development.