Commentary: Surge in infra buildup favors farm growth
by T. Villavert
Iloilo City (14 February) -- The recent order of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for a "surge" in infrastructure buildup will help sustain farm growth this year, according to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.
It will be recalled that President Arroyo, in previous week, ordered a surge in infrastructure spending- P200 billion from the national government, government corporations and local governments; three thousand kilometers of roads and 10,000 school buildings. These, she said, will serve as a firewall against the world volatility and as a springboard for further growth.
Secretary Yap said that the President's order would mean much higher public investments in, among others, irrigation works and post-harvest facilities, which are key elements of the DA's five-point growth agenda. The DA's five-point growth agenda are: 1) infrastructure, 2) technology and extension services, 3) post-harvest and storage facilities, 4) expanding access to rural credit and 5) opening new markets here and abroad for Philippine agro-fishery products.
The agriculture Secretary on the other hand said that this program to sustain and accelerate farm growth and raise the profitability of agriculture for its small stakeholders is in compliance with the mandate by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under her Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan for the DA to focus on attaining food security and creating jobs, especially in the countryside.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Science and Technology have launched with a group of State Universities and Colleges and non-government organization the electronic-Learning program for Agriculture and Fisheries to modernize agricultural extension work by harnessing the digital revolution to bring new information and technologies closer to rural communities.
Secretary Yap disclosed in a press report that the DA through its Agricultural Training Institute, along with the DOST and their partner agencies are undertaking this on line program "in step with the DA's electronic-Extension program that aims to modernize agricultural extension by bringing information closer and faster to the extension workers, farmers and fisherfolks in the country".
The Agriculture Secretary further said that the program is one of the component of the Comprehensive Agriculture and Fisheries Integrated Management System, being undertaken by the Department. This will allow small farmers, fisherfolks and agribusiness entrepreneurs cruise the information superhighway by tapping into a DA-run electronic database system for information on new technologies to help them boost yields, optimize profits and eventually engage in online trading or marketing of their produce. (PIA) [top]