The book is titled “Agribusiness and Inclusive Growth: An Expert’s Advocacy.” It contains valuable information which could help our policymakers and concerned government officials as well as the private sector to take appropriate action to enhance performance, especially in reducing rural (and urban) poverty.
Rolly Dy is the executive director of the Center for Food and Agri Business of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), and has been an observer of international agribusiness developments for over 30 years.
He notes that low farm productivity is the main cause of high rural poverty. And he stresses that we must strengthen local governments and national support agencies if we are to achieve inclusive growth, meaning the small farmers can partake of the fruits of development.
The first four chapters reveal how the Philippines is faring compared with Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in the field of agri-food trade with the United States, Japan, China and Australia. Facts and figures clearly show that we are behind in a number of ways.
There are chapters which show why other countries are far ahead of the Philippines. In agri-food exports, for instance, the Philippines trails behind with only $4B in exports of agriculture and food products in 2008. As the figures show, Thailand earned 8 times more, Indonesia almost 8 times, Malaysia 7 times, and Vietnam almost three times.
The Philippines has only one export product that earned it over $1B, and that is coconut. On the other hand Thailand has six products that include rubber, rice, meat/seafood preparations, shrimps, fruits and vegetable preparations, and sugar.
In Indonesia, the billion-dollar export earners are palm oil, rubber, seafood, coffee/tea, and cocoa preparations. In Malaysia these are palm oil, rubber and cocoa preparations. And in Vietnam it is seafood, rice, coffee, rubber and nuts.
The book cites at least five factors why we are lagging behind in export earnings. One is lack of focus on product diversification, particularly tree crops, fishery and aquaculture. Political leaders look at rice self-sufficiency as the success factor. Most of the budget (60 percent) went to the rice program, especially irrigation.
The book also cites lack of long-term funds for planting long-gestating crops such as rubber, oil palm, cacao, coffee, coconut, etc. Then there are limited funds for export market intelligence and development. Also, there is lack of a solid program for rural poverty reduction anchored on agribusiness development. Some other time we will tell you more about the insights contained in the book.
For more information, contact Rosalie, Ann or Joy at 637-0912 to 26, local 247/345.