Why agri should be prioritized in dev’t agenda
The news item titled “Duterte to green-light 2017-2022 development plan in February” (Inquirer.net, 1/19/17) reported that the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022 is aimed at slashing poverty incidence in the country from 21.6 percent in 2015 to 14 percent in 2022, and is focused on regional development, infrastructure, agriculture and culture, among other fields of development.
Under the plan, the Department of Agriculture would adapt the strategies on Special Area for Agricultural Development which prioritizes Samar island; the rest of the provinces could avail themselves of the necessary agri-fishery interventions through regular programs.
The plan, which is based on sound assumptions, should also consider the major economic indicators that show how far the country deviates from its neighboring countries, which keeps it away from significantly reducing its poverty incidence.
- The agricultural sector’s labor force in 2015 was 29 percent of the country’s total, which is much lower than those of Indonesia (38.9) and Vietnam (48). On the other hand, its contribution to the GDP was 10.3 percent with a corresponding GDP per capita (PPP) of $7,300, compared to Indonesia’s 13.6 percent and Vietnam’s 17.4 percent with a corresponding PPP of $11,100 and $6,000, respectively.
- While the Philippines is still classified as a developing country, it follows an economic development path that is driven by the service sector, which is characteristic of developed and advanced countries. In fact, the country’s service sector contributes 58.5 percent to the GDP and 55 percent to the labor force, which are much higher than those of Indonesia’s (43.6, 47.9) and Vietnam (43.7, 31), respectively.
- Given the above economic settings of the three countries, which are the product of past political and economic governance, the Philippines’ poverty incidence is 21.6 percent which is twice higher than those of Indonesia’s and Vietnam’s 11.3 percent.
If the Duterte administration fails to prioritize agricultural development and, subsequently, industrial (manufacturing) development, and instead pursue the service-led economic development (about which, based on several studies, doubts have been raised as to its sustainability), there is little possibility the country can achieve significant poverty reduction; thus the present administration may find it hard to put an end to political instability and violence.
EDMUNDO ENDEREZ, [email protected]
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