MANILA–The Philippines was told to “go back” to agriculture by the World Bank East Asia and the Pacific Poverty Reduction at a forum in Manila last week.
Economic Management’s Lead Economist Rogier van den Brink explained how the slumping agriculture industry has affected the economy of the country, while citing Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China to have successfully reduced poverty and spurred economic growth by starting with agriculture.
“The call to go back to an agricultural region is immensely true in the case of Eastern Visayas,” said Jude Acidre, first nominee of Tingog Sinirangan.
“According to the Joint Foreign Chambers report, agriculture can lift millions from poverty because it can raise farm profits and incomes, as well as increase nonfarm incomes and profits through multipliers. With greater productivity and better incomes, food prices remain low. By rebuilding agriculture, there will be inclusive growth,” Acidre said.
Eastern Visayas is primarily an agricultural region with rice, abaca, corn, coconut, sugarcane and banana as major crops, he added.
Yet after the devastation from super typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, poverty incidence reached an all-time high 54.9 percent, replacing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as the poorest region in the country.
In its report, the Department of Agriculture said the region incurred about P31 billion damage on agriculture, with the coconut industry suffering the biggest loss of P17.8 billion.
“Before typhoon Yolanda, the poverty status was already dipping. The region’s poverty incidence worsened from 2006 to 2012, while the nation’s overall situation has been improving on the average,” said Acidre.
Eastern Visayas was the 7th poorest region in 2006, with 41.5 percent of people in poverty. In 2012, its poverty incidence rose to 45.2 percent of population, making it the second poorest in the country.
“Tingog hopes to rebuild the agricultural industry in the region. As the voice for development of the peripheries, Tingog advocates reduction of poverty in the region,” Acidre said.
“Tingog Sinirangan is strongly committed and has a clear plan on how to get there. First, we want to make sure we get our fair share of the national budget. Once we get the funding, we will create the right environment for creating wealth, to encourage investments in the region.”