The Daily Manila Shimbun


Philippines needs to diversify crops, instead of mostly focusing on rice, to cut poverty: OECD

April 7, 2017

The Philippines should diversify its crops by not focusing mostly on rice in order to reduce poverty and improve food security, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Friday. A report on agricultural policies in the Philippines showed while the value of output increased by 73 percent over 1990-2013 period, the growth rate was slower than in most Southeast Asian countries, said OECD Director of Trade and Agriculture Ken Ash in a press conference at the Department of Agriculture. Citing the report, he said there was a link between how productivity of agricultural workers, which is only one-sixth of workers in the industrial sector, and low incomes of farm households. "Restructuring government support away from self-sufficiency target, in particular for rice production, towards measures that strengthen productivity and overall farm profitability on a sustainable basis will be critical," he said. Andrzej Kwiecinski, OECD Senior Agricultural Policy Analyst, said the Philippine farmers could consider fruits and vegetables as alternative crops. He said the Philippines has "good prospects" for developing other corps, such as fruits and vegetables, which have strong demand abroad and even locally. He cited bananas, pineapples and mangoes, which are being exported to other countries, such as Japan and China. OECD said refocusing government's support away from specific commodities would encourage diversification towards higher value commodities, which would raise rural incomes and improve food security. "Improvements to productivity could be achieved through increased on-farm investment, but this is currently impeded by insecure property rights and restrictions on land-market transactions," the report said. Kwiecinski said farmers, who are beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, should be given the leeway on how they would use their land. He added land should be awarded individually instead of collectively. Celerina Monte/DMS