Government seeks ways to hike agri productivity

By Iris C. Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 15 2011 07:08 AM | Updated as of Jul 15 2011 03:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is looking for ways to increase agricultural productivity to mitigate the impact of rising prices, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA director-general Cayetano Paderanga Jr. said yesterday.

Paderanga said there are various measures needed to temper the impact of rising prices.

These include intensifying science and technology application in Philippine farms, and the improvement of logistical support to raise distribution efficiency, especially in agri-fishery transport.

“Reducing market layers by directly linking producers to retailers and possibly to consumers, and promoting the more efficient use of energy are some measures that could also relieve pressures from rising prices,” Paderanga said.

In the long run, Paderanga said, the country can pursue various strategic energy infrastructure projects and toward this end, expand oil and gas exploration, and pursue renewable energy or alternative fuel development, among others.

Stricter price monitoring and the enforcement of relevant laws, as well as undertaking a strong campaign against unfair selling practices, especially in areas outside Metro Manila, may also reduce the impact of inflation.

According to Paderanga, the higher inflation rate was pushed by increases in some food commodity prices due to supply shocks in major domestic food producing areas, as the country was hit by three tropical storms in June 2011.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) reported last July 5 that commodity prices increased by 5.2% in June 2011 compared to June 2010, based on 2006 prices. As a result, the year-to-date inflation rate reached 4.7%.

Paderanga said the rise in education fees also contributed to inflation with classes opening in June and some schools, including colleges and universities, adjusting their tuition.

Fuel prices also raised inflation with the increase of average prices of domestic fuel.