Senator Edgardo J. Angara renewed his call for more investments into agriculture, saying that rolling out measures for climate change adaptation will make the sector more globally competitive.
Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, made the statement as Hideki Kanamaru of the Food and Agricultural Office (FAO) told participants at the APEC Symposium on Climate Change that the Philippines must adopt “climate-smart agriculture” to address mounting challenges faced in food security and climate change.
“Making our crops more ready for climate change not only assures our own food security but also boosts the competitiveness of the entire agricultural sector,” said Angara. “In other words, by preparing for disasters and developing more technologies for intensifying our production systems, we make a stronger case for agro-based businesses in the country.”
Angara, who is also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), cited data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showing that while most of the country’s exports declined in 2011, agro-based products actually increased by 6.9 percent.
He also took note of statements from the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization, Inc. (Philfoodex) that inadequate supply of essential raw materials is still stunting the export performance of the agricultural sector.
In a speech at the 7th Biennial Convention of the Chinese-Filipino Business Club, Inc., President Benigno Aquino III said that agriculture is one of the areas that the government will focus on this year, adding that the budget allocated for the sector had been increased by 50 percent.
“It is only right that we put more of our resources into agriculture, but as a recent UN report outlines, we need to make sure that new investments are also funnelled into imperatives in climate change and disaster risk reduction,” said Angara referring to “Towards a Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction” from the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). “This is why COMSTE has been seeking for the establishment of an innovation cluster in agriculture.”
Angara explained that an innovation cluster in smart agriculture and precision farming will be a tripartite partnership among government, industry and the academe focused on utilizing advanced technologies like remote sensing systems in improving the agricultural output of the country.
Around 90 million of the 2012 budget has been allocated for the establishment of the cluster. (30)