June 16, 2020

The government needs to intensify its support for agricultural research and development (R&D) programs of public research institutions and state universities and colleges, the National Economic and Development Authority said.

“We must emphasize and promote the commercial viability of making healthy, safe, nutritious, medicinal or therapeutic, and well-packaged agricultural food products. The shift in consumer preference for healthier diets will increase the demand for processed agri-food products with longer shelf life and improved nutritional content. This is especially needed during this time when good health is of the highest importance,” said NEDA Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua.

To prolong the shelf life of food, including raw and unprocessed ones, Chua said cold chain logistics – temperature-controlled or refrigerated production, storage, and distribution – need to be put in place. Provision of cold storage and refrigeration facilities will not only prolong the shelf life of agri-food products, but also enable more consumers to enjoy fresh produce.

“Furthermore, strict enforcement of food safety laws, regulations, standards, and sanitation protocols is needed to ensure the safety of agri-food products supplied in the market,” Chua added.

Last April 5-8, 2020, the NEDA-led Inter-Agency Task Force Technical Working Group for Anticipatory and Forward Planning conducted a business assessment survey on the agriculture and fisheries sector. The results of the survey, generated from 6,863 farmers and fisher folk, show that even though 86 percent were still able to continue their agricultural activities, only 65 percent were able to sell their produce. This resulted in a PHP 94.3 million loss from unsold produce, with the biggest chunk coming from CALABARZON at PHP 26.3 million followed by Central Luzon with PHP 24.8 million.

“Around 96 percent of the respondents in the agriculture and fisheries sector indicated that they intend to continue their agricultural activity in the next cropping season. Numerous challenges, including weaker domestic demand, highlights the need for better R&D to prevent wastage and spoilage,” the Acting Secretary said.

Chua closed by saying that one of the proposed legislative actions contained in the We Recover as One report is to address regulatory issues to enable the national and local governments to purchase produce from Filipino farmers and fisherfolk for relief and school feeding programs.

The report was recently released online and can be accessed through this link: https://neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/We-Recover-As-One.pdf