Kiko saddened by the negative growth rate in 3rd quarter of 2010 in agri sector
By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 27, 2010-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, chair of the senate’s committee on agriculture and food was saddened by the country’s negative growth rate in the agricultural sector (-2.62%) from January to September 2010 despite the 6.5% growth in the economy in general.

He expressed grief when the Department of Agriculture reported the negative growth due to the dry spell from the data of Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, saying “what’s the point of economic growth” if the country is unable to ensure food security.

“That data is a clear indication that the sector is being taken for granted and neglected. We need to do more in terms of preparedness and having buffer systems in place so that our farmers and their livelihoods are protected,” he said

The Senator is working closely with DA secretary Proceso Alcala in coming up with a roadmap for the country’s agricultural sector. According to DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics’ website, the crops’ subsector recorded last year a 7.24 percent decline from its level.

“There is a need to develop long-term sustainable measures to address usual threats faced by local farmers and should strengthen crop protection measures for farmers as they seem to be always on the losing end when faced with natural disasters,” he said, adding that we owe it to our local farmers to make their lives better as they have been breaking their backs for decades producing foods.

The senator pushes various key reforms in critical areas such as productivity, infrastructure and organizing farmers to reverse the reported negative growth. Dry spells and weather disturbances have been around for centuries, and so to always refer to nature as a way of explaining negative growth isn’t good enough. There is a need to confront productivity head on and factor in these weather patterns so we can anticipate their impact and adequately be prepared to minimize the damage.

Kiko said, this is the time for the government to protect the farmers who are at the mercy of weather patterns. Government intervention is necessary to give local farmers and fisherfolks a fighting chance. (Jason de Asis)