Returning OFWs urged to invest in agriculture, fisheries

January 5, 2012

Jennifer A. Ng
Business Mirror
January 4, 2011

RETURNING overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are looking to invest their money should consider the agriculture and fisheries sector that is currently getting a big boost from the government.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate committee on Agriculture and Food, said there is “a lot to be optimistic about these sector” for 2012.

“The Department of Agriculture (DA) has been given a major boost with the biggest budget allocation hike among all agencies. The Aquino administration’s commitment to modernizing the farm sector…is enough to boost the confidence of our countrymen in investing in the agriculture and fisheries sector,” said Pangilinan in a statement.

The DA was given a budget of P61.7 billion for 2012. Of this amount, the department will allocate around P20 billion for the construction, repair and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities as it races to achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2013.

The solon also urged local government officials to use idle lands within their jurisdiction and plant food crops to ensure that their locales have enough food supply.

“In light of the havoc wreaked by Typhoon Sendong where officials were scrambling for food sources, it would be wise for local governments to utilize idle lands for crops that could be used as buffer for such eventualities,” said Pangilinan.

He asked local government units (LGUs) to create an “enabling environment” and encourage investments in the agriculture and fisheries sector in their areas.

“While it isn’t wrong to use land for factories, malls, or housing, we should prioritize land for food, more so if said lands are irrigable. The lessons we have learned through such disasters as typhoons and other calamities should be taken to heart—that we must, first and foremost, secure the needs of our people, especially when hunger is on the rise,” said Pangilinan.

Apart from the destruction wrought by typhoons and other weather disturbances such as the El Niño weather phenomenon, the Philippines also has to contend with the volatility of international commodity prices being a net food importer.

In 2008, the government and local traders were forced to buy imported rice at more than $1,000 per metric ton after international food prices shot up to historic levels.

 

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