Agri sector key to dampening inflation: economist


Posted at Feb 10 2023 02:29 PM

Watch more News on iWantTFC

The government must strengthen the agriculture sector by implementing policies and solutions to boost productivity and dampen inflation, an economist said on Friday.

Inflation in January quickened to 8.7 percent driven by rising costs in housing, power and water, and the continued increases in some basic food items. 

The month's total is a fresh 14-year high and way beyond the government target of 2 to 4 percent. 

In an interview with Teleradyo, Economist Jan Carlo Punongbayan said importation is just a temporary measure. 

Enforcing existing policies and modernizing the agri sector such as the rollout of more storage solutions could boost production, he said.

"Yung importasyon ay solusyon yan sa short run para hindi masyadong tumaas ang presto ng mga bilihin pero dapat hindi siya excuse para pabayaan yung agriculture at policy na pwedeng magpalago sa agriculture," Punongbayan

"Hindi na bago ang solutions kelangan lang ng political will at kailangan lang ipatupad ng maigi ng gobyerno," he added.

The government has tapped importation when the costs of onions surged to as much as P700 per kilo. 

Former National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr should consider cutting back on foreign trips and focus more on solving the country’s problems, especially in agriculture.

“There are just too many problems that need to be attended to. Maybe a couple of trips are fine, three trips at the most in his first semester of being President. Then show as an exemplar, attending to agriculture, which he deliberately decided to head himself, because it is a very critical department and food is really the, one of the problems we are facing now," Pernia said during a forum of economists. 

For his part, International Investment Banker Stephen Cuunjieng said the government has many options to boost productivity and ensure food security in the country.

In Japan there are subsidies for farmers, while in Thailand and Vietnam the cooperative system drives small farmers to increase productivity, he said, adding that these could be done in the Philippines. 

“If you want to leave existing farms small that’s fine. But you have to have a proper coop system. It works in Vietnam, it works in Thailand where they have small farmers but they’re forced to have coops so they have 4 times productivity,” Cuunjieng said.

"There are solutions, they’re not easy. They’ve not been done in the Philippines previously but it doesn’t mean it can't be done. It is hard, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong," he said.

Watch more News on iWantTFC