Cordillera needs P75.5 billion to improve food production
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The Cordillera requires P75.5 billion for the next 10 years to improve its farming economy under a modernization plan that would be submitted to the incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., an official said on Tuesday.
Local agriculture again contracted by 1.7 percent, the only sector in the farm-dominated region that performed poorly after the Cordillera generated a 2021 gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of 7.5 percent. In 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, the Cordillera GRDP was at its historic lowest with a negative 10.2 percent.
Despite the quarantine and other pandemic restrictions that affected local markets, upland farmers continued to grow rice and vegetables on 177,839 hectares of agricultural land “because they knew people needed food during the public health crisis,” said Cameron Odsey, regional director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) at a press briefing.
Benguet and parts of Mountain Province grow salad vegetables like carrots, lettuce, cabbage, beans and potatoes which are sold daily in Metro Manila markets.
Odsey said the region’s rate of productivity may benefit from an annual budget of P7 billion under the 2021-2030 National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan.
“This is high compared to the P1 billion to almost P2 billion we now get,” he said.
The modernization plan is “commodity neutral,” Odsey said, noting that it meant that infrastructure support, food sufficiency and food security programs would cover all crops grown in the country.
He said the country may also feel the impact of a projected global food inflation due to supply chain disruptions and unstable fuel prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The DA is addressing this by encouraging Cordillera provinces and other local governments to buy crops and other produce grown in their respective areas, said Danilo Daguio, the DA regional technical director for operations.
Daguio said local governments could also build their own buffer stocks that would be good for four weeks, instead of the current buffer ceiling of 8.6 days.
Smuggling is also a crucial problem for vegetable growers. One of the core proposals submitted to Congress by Agriculture Secretary William Dar is to streamline agencies monitoring the ports and borders into one agency with sufficient police powers, Odsey said.
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