PDP to focus on agro-industry development

A community garden is seen in Marikina City, April 22 — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE UPCOMING Philippine Development Plan (PDP) will focus on developing the country’s agro-industry, according to a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) official.

“The longer-term solution is really to improve the productivity of our agricultural sector and then increase the linkages between agriculture and the rest of the economy,” said NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon in a television interview with BusinessWorld Live on Monday.

“So, for our PDP, we are looking at developing more of the agro-industry… Previously, our targets had to do with increasing the gross value added of agriculture but now we will be looking at indicators that are really about the linkages,” she added.

Protecting the purchasing power of Filipinos through food security, as well as targeting social protection to indigents, is also reflected in the strategy framework for the PDP 2023-2028.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. had pledged to boost agriculture production through modernization.

“It’s really about the farm to plate, so we also consider the logistics cost, the storage facilities, the processing facilities… so we have to look at availability, affordability, [and] accessibility of the food products at the market,” Ms. Edillon said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan previously said that the agriculture sector can contribute to long-term growth and poverty reduction.

Ms. Edillon said that there are still some sectors below pre-pandemic levels of growth, including transportation, accommodation, and recreation, among others.

“We think we should be targeting for a faster growth rate because we need to catch up on those lost growth opportunities, and next year would be a very crucial year for us; it’s really [about] addressing the scarring [and] catching up,” she added.

The government aims to attain 6.5-7.5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year, and 6.5-8% next year until 2028. At the same time, it wants to bring down the poverty rate to single digit or 9%.

According to Ms. Edillon, poverty incidence was reduced to 16.7% from 23.7% between 2015 and 2018; only to rise to 18.1% between 2018 and 2021 due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We saw that certain regions where there was really economic activity, and there were programs to assist the poor, the poverty actually went down. So, it’s still the same strategy; make sure that the economic activity really is very vibrant and that the poor are able to participate in this economic activity,” Ms. Edillon said, adding that it is doable provided the growth targets are achieved.

“In the short term, it really has to be a mix of government assistance especially to the most vulnerable, and we’re looking at ensuring food security for the most vulnerable,” she added, naming farmers, fisherfolks, and the poor as its beneficiaries.

Last month, Ms. Edillon told reporters that NEDA is working to fast-track the submission of the new PDP before its deadline in December.

The PDP serves as the government’s overall guide in development planning. — Diego Gabriel C. Robles