MANILA – On the heels of the recent national elections, the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday called on the public to set aside politics and prioritize economic advancement through agriculture.
In a speech, DA Secretary William Dar urged Filipinos to support the incoming administration regardless of their political colors, ahead of the impending victory of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and presumptive vice president Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“Sana wala nang kulay-kulay, basta agrikultura na lang ang pag-usapan (I hope there will be no more political colors, let’s just talk about the agriculture) let’s be united to help our incoming president… Alam natin lahat na nanalo po ang tambalang BBM at Sara (we all know that the BBM-Sara tandem won),” he said.
Dar appealed to the next chief executive to give more focus on agriculture, given that the Philippines’ agriculture’s share only accounts for 1.7 percent of the annual budget, significantly lower than that of its Association of Southeast Asian Nations neighbors, varying from 4 to 6 percent.
“After the elections, dapat gamitin po natin ang sektor ng agricultural (we should use the sector of agriculture) that will bring unity of purpose for us to transform again this underinvested, under-budgeted, very neglected sector of the economy,” he said.
The DA chief made the statement during the official launch of the updated National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan (NAFMIP).
Dar noted how over 31 million voters – which he referred to as “people capital” – have expressed their support for Marcos and Duterte-Carpio.
He said this support, as well as the holistic unity between the government and private sector, could boost agricultural stability, particularly in an administration with a political will, which he looks forward to seeing in a Marcos leadership.
“We need to unlock that potential with political will, with the declaration that one of the topmost priorities of the government is agriculture, and that significant budgetary sources must be afforded by Philippine agriculture now and in the future,” he said.
Dar assured the next set of leaders that they will be presented with a strategic plan and programs, in the form of NAFMIP, to ensure continuity and long-term development to benefit farmers and fishers in the Philippines.
“Whoever is the leader of Agriculture, he will not start from zero, you have a document, it is a living document, that you can further strengthen… you can really consider, because again, what is something new here to highlight is the food systems approach,” he said.
The NAFMIP is a detailed strategic plan, containing short, medium, and long-term programs which will aim to ensure food security, as well as nutrition security, income generation, resiliency, and sustainability, among others. (PNA)