CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY-Businessmen in Northern Mindanao (Region X) have high hopes for Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s vow to prioritize agriculture and food self-sufficiency during his administration.
The president has ordered a sweeping review of all projects and programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to identify how the agency can effectively help local food producers and bring down the prices of commodities.
He ordered agri officials to devise a strategy to help farmers ramp up their production, particularly of rice, and transport these to trading posts amid the surge in the prices of fertilizers and fuel.
Ruben A. Vegafria, Regional Governor of the Phil Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI-10) and Conference Chairman for the Mindanao Food Congress, is looking forward to what specific actions the President will enable to address the high cost of agricultural inputs.
Similarly, Efren Uy, Past President & Spokesperson, Misamis Oriental Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Inc (MOFCCCII) and currently Oro Chamber Chairman of the Board, would like to see tax exemptions on all farm inputs and agri machineries to lower the production costs of food products.
“As part of his election campaign pitch, President Marcos already saw the problem of agriculture and food sufficiency of our country. His taking the Agriculture portfolio was no surprise to us as it signaled his sincerity to bring more and cheaper food on every Filipino family’s table,” noted Oro Chamber President Raymundo Talimio Jr.
However, Talimio is perplexed why his economic managers led by Finance Sec. Ben Diokno are saying that the government’s priorities are health, education and infrastructure.
“The business sector is eagerly waiting for his 1st SONA with a hope that he will debunk Diokno’s pronouncements and push for Agriculture’s sustainability and sufficiency,” Talimio stressed.
“I believe he is trying his best to pursue his agenda of Unity and his nomination of various Cabinet members who may not have been in his camp during the last elections gives us hope that a unified administration will eventually lead to the country’s economic recovery after the covid pandemic,” said Elpidio M. Paras, Promote Normin Inc. President.
“As patriots for our country, let us all join hands to ensure that our nation moves forward and not look back!” he enjoined.
Besides the priority focus on agriculture, Uy also wants to hear more Enhanced Economic Policies, Incentives and/or Tax Reliefs to attain fast recovery, and a diligent review of all Gov’t To Gov’t & other Financial Institutions Loan Agreements.
DA Undersecretary for Consumer and Political Affairs Kristine Evangelista clarified that ensuring food security not only covers a sufficient rice supply, but prime commodities such as pork and poultry, eggs, and vegetables as well.
The President, Evangelista said, has ordered the department to study how best to raise farm production while tempering the cost of production by stabilizing the supply of commodities which would redound to affordable prices for end users.
Region 10 Agriculture Sector
While the regional economy of Northern Mindanao has been steadily recovering from the effects of the global pandemic, it’s not out of the woods yet.
In her presentation during the Northern Mindanao Socio Economic Media Forum held 4 July 2022, Regional Development Council-X Vice Chair and NEDA-X Regional Dir. Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño said the agriculture sector was a top 3 contributor to the region’s growth in 2021 with 3.8% and remains one of its top employers with 38% of people employed, but its labor productivity ranked lowest at 64% lower than industry, 40% lower than services, and 36% lower than the regional average.
The Philippine government’s agricultural programs for the region are for rice, corn, high value crops, and livestock. Large portions of land dedicated to agriculture are used to grow coconut, bananas, pineapple, corn and rice.
PSA-X statistics show palay production in 2021 increased by 1.51 percent, with annual average yield 2.27% higher at 4.78 MT per hectare, and regional average annual rice sufficiency at 85.7 percent.
Corn production fared better with white corn and yellow corn production higher by 20.54 percent and 33.32 percent, respectively. This enabled the region to attain a corn surplus with a sufficiency level of 144.32 percent in 2021.
For 2021, poultry and livestock live weight volume grew by 1.20 percent to 495,720 MT with all livestock and poultry commodities increased except for chicken.
Bananas accounted for 53.9 percent of the total production of major fruit crops in the region, followed by pineapple (1.668 million MT/44.6 percent share, calamansi and mango with a combine share of 1.5 percent.
Cassava accounted for the biggest share (85.8%) of the total production of major vegetables and root crops in the region in 2021 with 675,888 MT.
Sugarcane accounted for 67.1 percent of the total regional production for selected non-food and industrial crops and had the biggest gain in production in terms of volume at 642,205 metric tons, although abaca (dried raw fiber) grew fastest at 24.4 percent.
While aquaculture had the biggest share of the total fisheries production in Region X (46.3%), it also recorded the biggest drop at -21.6 percent, equivalent to 15,111.87 metric tons. The volume of fisheries production dropped 16.3% to 118,112.40 metric tons in 2021, with all fisheries subsectors decreasing production for the period.
Overall however, the region was the 7th biggest regional economy with a 4.7 percent share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021.
In fact, with a 5.1% growth in its Per Capita Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP), it had the 2nd highest in the Philippines. and highest outside the National Capital Region.
It was also one of the nine regions to surpass the Philippines growth of 5.7 percent with 6.3%, and was only one of four regions whose economy was able to rebound to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.